Man cleared of elbow assault charge

By Heather McCracken

File photo / APN
File photo / APN

A jury has taken about an hour to clear a man accused of repeatedly elbowing his partner in the back when she wouldn't stop coughing in bed.

Matthew Crann, of Red Beach, north of Auckland, was found not guilty of assaulting former partner Elizabeth Currie today after a defended hearing at Manukau District Court.

The Crown alleged Mr Crann elbowed Ms Currie several times while they lay in bed on the morning of August 26, 2011 - but defence lawyer Russell Fairbrother QC said the incident never happened.

Mr Fairbrother said Ms Currie was not assaulted and was acting to protect her property when she realised Mr Crann planned to leave the relationship.

He noted she had their tenancy transferred into her name after making the complaint and that her police statement was not filed until six hours after the alleged assault.

Mr Fairbrother said what really happened was that Mr Crann had got up at 6am and left for a 7am appointment, taking some of his personal property with him.

"Despite Mr Crann's efforts to exit in a very gentle way, it has been turned on him in a hysterical way.''

He said the alleged assault was implausible, and would have required Mr Crann to be lying in an unnatural position.

"If, when you weigh the stories together you say you don't know who to believe, then in our English justice system that translates to just two words: Not guilty.''

Earlier, Crown prosecutor Carl Mcdairmid had summed up by telling the jury the case was about whether Mr Crann had elbowed his partner, not what happened afterwards.

He urged them to think carefully about Ms Currie's evidence, and whether they believed her.

"She did everything you would expect from a person who had been assaulted. She got out of there, she got help, she talked to police.

"She told the police the same thing she told her friend, that Mr Crann got angry, got abusive and had elbowed her in the back.''

Judge Claire Ryan had instructed the jury that to find a guilty verdict they had to be sure Mr Crann had elbowed Ms Currie, and that he intended to do so.

"The slightest degree of force will suffice,'' she said.

She instructed the jury to ignore any sympathy or prejudice they may have towards any of the witnesses, and make their decision based on the evidence.

- APNZ

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