Police officer found guilty on six sex charges

By Sam Hurley -
Adam Dunnett
Adam Dunnett

Hawke's Bay police officer Adam Dunnett has been found guilty on six sex charges involving teenage girls.

Three other charges have been dismissed.

Dunnett, a 37-year-old Flaxmere constable, faced nine counts of indecent assault against five teenage complainants during a week-long trial earlier this month at Napier District Court.

He strenuously denied the charges.

In total, five different incidents were alleged to have occurred between May 2011 and New Year's Day 2013, four at the Ocean Beach Surf Club and one at the Taradale Fire Station.

Judge Les Atkins QC delivered his verdicts today following the judge-alone trial.

Judge Atkins said in his written submissions that despite Dunnett being aged in his 30s he assessed him as being "less than mature".

"I also assessed him as being inclined to be manipulative. While he could approximate the truth, he was capable of distorting it to achieve his own ends."

During the trial, Crown prosecutor Gavin Thornton methodically cross-examined an often sobbing Dunnett for almost an entire day.

He accused Dunnett of "tailoring" his evidence to "best suit [his] interests" and failing to "acknowledge responsibility" for the offences.

Mr Thornton said because Dunnett had been an officer for 10 years, had a familiarity with the court system and full disclosure of the Crown's evidence he doctored his story for his own benefit.

During final submissions on day five of the trial, Mr Thornton said the five teenage girls had given their evidence in a "highly emotional nature", which was particularly hard given they "trusted and looked up to" Dunnett.

He added Dunnett held a position of responsibility and at times it was "totally unbelievable" the events occurred in the way Dunnett had claimed.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Krebs said in his closing trial submissions that often the complainants were voluntarily participating or consenting in the alleged incidents.

He added several of the Crown witnesses gave unreliable evidence because they had no recollection of certain events due to high levels of alcohol consumption.

Dunnett said he had not lied in his testimony because it would only "worsen" his situation.

The police officer did however conceded he twice touched a "playful and flirty" teenager's breast but was convinced it was "consensual" at a surf club party in 2011.

The Crown also questioned Dunnett's moral judgment for drinking with teenage girls at the surf club and claimed he should have known where the "mark" was.

Dunnett said during one episode at the club, on Christmas Eve 2011, his "moral compass was broken due to intoxication".

Dunnett has been remanded on bail until his sentencing on July 3.

He declined to comment as he and Mr Krebs entered the courthouse together and refused again as he left with supporters following the verdict.

Hawke's Bay area commander Inspector Tania Kura, who was sitting in the public gallery as the verdict was read, said police would not be making statements on the case until Dunnett's sentencing.

When asked if the 37-year-old was still employed with police following the guilty verdict, she again declined to comment.

Judge Atkins said in his written submissions that despite Dunnett being aged in his 30s he assessed him as being "less than mature".

"I also assessed him as being inclined to be manipulative. While he could approximate the truth, he was capable of distorting it to achieve his own ends."

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