Court case plagued by whispers and a hostile witness

By Greymouth Star staff

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A Greymouth court hearing was packed with drama amid allegations of false testimony, a hostile witness and a member of the public being threatened with contempt for passing secrets to witnesses in the waiting room.

The main witness was first to feel the wrath of Judge Michael Behrens in the District Court when her evidence in chief differed greatly to the statement that she had given to police, alleging that Vulcan Drew had throttled and threatened to kill her.

She was declared a hostile witness.

Defence lawyer George Linder then earned a rebuke from the judge by opening his cross-examination by demanding the witness admit that she had a track record of making false accusations.

"What's that got to do with it? I'm only interested in these allegations," the judge scolded Mr Linder.

Focus then switched to a woman in the public gallery who had twice left the court as the complainant was giving evidence. Police and court security reported to the judge that she had been seen whispering to Drew's witnesses, but the woman claimed she had gone out only to use her cellphone and visit the toilet.

She had known Drew since he was a child but was an impartial spectator in the courtroom, she said.

Ordering that she have no further contact with the witnesses, Judge Behrens said she would be locked up for contempt if she did.

Drew, 22, of Cobden, was charged with assault with intent to injure, common assault and threatening to kill. He and the complainant were in a relationship but no longer living together.

Judge Behrens found Drew not guilty of the assault with intent to injure, but convicted him of common assault and threatening to kill. He was sentenced to 100 hours' community work.

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