Not guilty yesterday, but guilty

By Patrick Gower, Derek Cheng, Phil Taylor

Former policemen Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum are convicted rapists, in jail for the kidnap and rape of a young woman.

Their names and other details - including allegations that she was handcuffed and sexually assaulted with a police baton - can only now be revealed after being kept from the public for almost two years so as not to taint juries in the trials that arose from claims by Louise Nicholas and a second Rotorua woman.

Shipton is serving 8 years and Schollum eight years in jail for raping a third woman, a 20-year-old, in Mt Maunganui in 1989.

Schollum is eligible for parole in a year and Shipton in 14 months.

The evidence in her court case bears similarities to that from Mrs Nicholas and the second Rotorua woman - Shipton was the protagonist, she was restrained by handcuffs, she was violated by a baton, four to five men were involved and Schollum played the conciliatory "nice guy" role.

Suspended police Assistant Commissioner Clint Rickards was not involved in the Mt Maunganui case.

The suppression order was lifted by Justice Judith Potter yesterday immediately after a jury in the High Court at Auckland acquitted Shipton, Schollum and Rickards on charges of kidnapping and indecently assaulting the second Rotorua woman with a whisky bottle in 1984, when she was 16.

As Rickards walked free through the court, the other two were taken back to the court cells to be returned to Mt Eden Prison, where they are being kept in segregation.

The Herald, which opposed the suppression order, can now reveal that Justice Ron Young, sentencing Shipton and Schollum after the Mt Maunganui trial in 2005, described them as "corrupt police officers" who treated the woman "like a piece of meat".

The woman testified she was lured to a lifeguard tower on the pretext of a lunch date with Shipton. Instead, she was handcuffed, raped, forced to perform oral sex and violated with a police baton.

She told the jury that five men were involved - Shipton, Schollum, lifeguards Peter McNamara (who was sentenced to seven years' jail), Warren Hales and an unknown fifth man.

The four appealed against their convictions but only Hales was successful. He was to have stood trial again, but he instead changed his plea to guilty of abduction and police dropped the rape charge.

The victim of the Mt Maunganui incident, now 38 and living overseas, came forward after becoming aware of publicity about rape allegations made by Mrs Nicholas in early 2004.

She told a High Court jury in Wellington that she had been interested in a date with Shipton and that McNamara had agreed to take her to meet him one lunchtime.

McNamara had instead taken her to the lifeguard tower in the sand dunes where the other men were waiting.

The men maintained that the complainant had been a willing participant in group sex. They denied handcuffing her or violating her with a police baton.

In her evidence, the woman described the men as "like dogs looking at raw meat".

Shipton was dominant in the group, ordering her to lie down, restraining her, raping her twice, forcing her mouth on to him and repeatedly shoving a police baton into her.

While using the baton he had said, "You like it, don't you? Do you want it harder?"

She said she believed Shipton had deliberately hurt her with the baton.

The five men took turns raping her, she said.

In cross-examination, it was suggested she was a precocious young woman who decided to have sex with a group of fit, athletic men she described as being "chick magnets". The woman dismissed that as a "scenario out of a Penthouse magazine".

She said she had not made a complaint or sought medical treatment at the time because she feared circumstances such as her pursuing the date with Shipton and going voluntarily to the tower might be misconstrued.

The woman's case was investigated by the same Operation Austin team that took Mrs Nicholas' case to court and discovered the second Rotorua woman.

Mr Rickards yesterday proclaimed the innocence of Shipton and Schollum in the Mt Maunganui case, saying Operation Austin was a "shambles" and "they shouldn't be where they are".

"Brad Shipton is a good friend. Bob Schollum is a good friend. They are still good friends of mine and always will be," Mr Rickards said.

The woman in the Mt Maunganui case and the Rotorua woman have automatic name suppression. Ms Nicholas did not seek name suppression.

Schollum, Shipton and Rickards were also acquitted last year of 20 charges including the rape and sexual violation of Louise Nicholas in 1985-86.

They said the group sex was consensual, and violation with a police baton never happened.

After yesterday's verdict, the complainant fled in tears supported by two policewoman.

A pregnant Mrs Nicholas was also rushed from the court by friends after arriving to hear the verdicts.

Rickards, Shipton and Schollum were police officers at the time of the alleged incident that led to yesterday's case.

The complainant testified that she had fallen in love with Shipton and had been having consensual sex with him before the incident.

She had told nobody about it until approached by Operation Austin detectives.

Rickards denied ever having met the complainant.

Shipton's lawyer never challenged her claims of them having a consensual sexual relationship while he was a married police officer in his mid-twenties, and Schollum never denied knowing her.

We still can't refer to * * * * * * * * or name Mr * * * * * * *

Although one of the suppression orders in the police sex trials has been lifted, others remain in place.

They were made at three different levels of the court system - the District Court, High Court and the Court of Appeal.

They were summarised by Justice Tony Randerson in March last year.

They include:

The phrase * * * * * * * * or similar * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * is not to be used to describe conduct alleged by the Crown in either the Nicholas case or the one that has just been tried and resulted in not guilty verdicts.

Pre-trial decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal are not to be published.

The fact that * * * * * * has been charged with * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * is not to be published until further notice.

Nor are orders by the District Court in * * * * * * * in relation to Mr * * * * * * *

The evidence and the identities and the occupations of four witnesses Mr * * * * * * , Mr * * * * * * * , Mr * * * * * * * * and Mrs * * * * * * * are not to be published.

The name or identifying particulars of the Crown witness * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * are not to be published either.

- Additional reporting Derek Cheng

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