Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Crown case 'unravelled' says lawyer of prominent New Zealander

The well-known man is on trial before the High Court in Whangarei. Photo / File
The well-known man is on trial before the High Court in Whangarei. Photo / File

• Prominent Kiwi's lawyer says defence witnesses contradict complainant on the nature of the massages given by his client
• He tells the jury the girls' lies unravelled "spectacularly" when they gave evidence last week
• The lawyer says it is no coincidence the allegations arose after a huge argument with one of the girls
• Crown says the "surreptitious" nature of a prominent Kiwi's alleged molestation made it confusing for the girls involved
• Prosecutor Brian Dickey says the fact the girls found it difficult giving evidence suggested they were telling the truth
• If the girls had wanted to lie they would have come up with much worse allegations, Mr Dickey said


The lawyer of a prominent Kiwi on sex charges says the trial has seen the accusers' lies unravel "spectacularly".

Defence counsel Arthur Fairley, in closing, told the jury there was no "halfway house" in the case.

"We've got two human beings saying in one form or another that [the defendant] touched us; we've got the other saying 'I did not'," he said.

"There's no in-between here."

The well-known man, whose name is suppressed, is on trial before the High Court in Whangarei after pleading not guilty to 12 counts of doing an indecent act on two girls, including allegations of touching their breasts, buttocks, groin and thighs.

Broad suppression orders also cover the identity of the complainants and the location of the alleged offending.

The Crown accepted the teenage complainants did not give a strong "performance" in the witness box but urged the jury to consider the strain they were under.

Mr Fairley had a different explanation.

"To be a good liar you've got to have a good memory; and more than that, when you're telling your lie you've got to be able to carry on and say, like chess, 'how is this going to be deconstructed further down the track?'" he said.

"What you've seen here spectacularly is not a matter of performance, it's where stories have unravelled."

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey wrote the defence witnesses off as irrelevant because the majority of them were not present when the alleged molestation took place.

Several of them told the court they had seen one of the girls wiggle her foot under the defendant's face, requesting a foot rub - something she firmly denied.

"The significance of that evidence is that it shows you the pattern. It wasn't a case of [the defendant] imposing his will on her and forcing her," Mr Fairley said. "This is a critical clash of credibility. It can't be sidestepped."

The Crown suggested the girls could have come up with more extreme allegations had they really been out to get the well-known man.

"From where this man's sitting it's a pretty big lie," Mr Fairley said, gesturing to his client sitting at the back of the court.

The younger complainant said on one occasion she thought the defendant was going to rape her.

The girl, who was described as a "stubborn" individual by some, did not disclose her fears at the time.

Mr Fairley questioned why.

"Why does she not tell anyone, this strong-minded young person?" he said.

The lawyer also pointed the jury to the timing when the girl came forward with the sexual allegations.

Mr Fairley said she told an adult about the touching straight after a huge argument with the defendant.

The man who was told of the accusations found a social worker to interview the girls.

While the older complainant said they were spoken to separately, the woman in the meeting gave evidence that they were all in the same room.

There was plenty of scope for collusion between the teenagers, Mr Fairley said.

He urged the jury to use their collective "robust common sense".

"Analyse with your mind, not your heart," Mr Fairley said.

Earlier, prosecutor Brian Dickey, in his closing address to the jury, accepted that particularly the older complainant found it difficult in the witness box.

"Hers wasn't a magnificent performance, but it's not about how good a performance she gives. We're not here to judge that," he said.

"The fact a young person struggles with this type of questioning might suggest they found it very difficult and awful to relive events. Most certainly they didn't enjoy it the first time around."

Mr Dickey said the man's reputation made it difficult for the girls to know what to do.

"He brings a big presence and it must be hard for the girls to deal with and explain it; and it was," the prosecutor said.

The Crown objected to any characterisation of the allegations as sustained abuse.

"[The teens] didn't put it as a trap in which they were preyed upon . . . it's not the narrative. It's more complicated and subtler than that," Mr Dickey said.

"it's about this uncomfortable, weird touching we know is wrong."

Further complicating matters was the fact the defendant would pay for "interesting things" for the girls.

"It's part of what makes [the indecent touching] confusing," Mr Dickey said.

There was no dispute the alleged touching constituted indecent acts and the Crown told the jury the case came down to a single fundamental issue.

"That's whether either or both of these girls have concocted the story that gives rise to these charges," Mr Dickey said.

He said there was no evidence of collusion and emphasised how the teens had stuck to their story for some time.

"The defendant took the opportunity from time to time when it presented itself to touch those girls indecently, inappropriately, in bad ways."

"Given the clear imbalance . . . obviously he thought he was able to get away with it."

Mr Dickey urged the jurors not to look at the allegations through "adult eyes".

There were times when the defendant was alone with each girl but the prosecutor highlighted the fact that most of the alleged acts occurred when there were others around.

"If you were going to lie about these events, wouldn't you make it much worse? These are fleeting inappropriate touches, absolutely indecent . . . but a teenage girl could dream up much worse than this. Why not make it a more believable lie? Why complicate the story by saying people were present? Why create potential witnesses? It's nuts," he said.

The defence's closing address will be followed by Justice Geoffrey Venning's summing up and jury deliberation.

- NZ Herald

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