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

Prominent Kiwi sex charge case: Jury struggling to reach unanimous verdict

The prominent Kiwi, who cannot be named, denies all the charges against him.
The prominent Kiwi, who cannot be named, denies all the charges against him.

The jury in the trial of a prominent New Zealander on sex charges is struggling to reach a unanimous verdict.

Justice Geoffrey Venning told them he may eventually accept majority verdicts - where all but one of the jurors agreed - on each of the 12 charges of committing an indecent act, but that was some time away.

They were told to continue deliberating behind closed doors in the jury room.

The man, whose name is suppressed, is on trial before the High Court at 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.

In closings yesterday, defence counsel Arthur Fairley 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 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 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.

- NZ Herald

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