Reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Victim recounts events before alleged rape by College Rifles rugby player

College Rifles Rugby and Sports Club in Remuera, Auckland where the offence allegedly took place. Photo / File
College Rifles Rugby and Sports Club in Remuera, Auckland where the offence allegedly took place. Photo / File

A woman who alleges a premier rugby player raped her while she slept was brought to tears under cross examination in court today.

Auckland rugby player Junior Sefo, 24, is on trial at the Auckland District Court, accused of rape after he allegedly "crept" into a room at College Rifles clubrooms in Remuera, where the woman was sleeping in the early hours of April 19, 2015.

It is alleged Sefo only stopped after the woman woke up and tried to fight him off.

Sefo has pleaded not guilty to raping the woman, but says he had consensual sex with her.

The night before the alleged early-morning attack, Sefo was drinking at the College Rifles clubrooms with teammates.

The alleged victim was also at the clubrooms drinking, but was not socialising or associating with Sefo.

At about 10.30pm she left the bar area and went to a different part of the College Rifles club to sleep.

The court heard that a group of players continued drinking near where the woman had gone to lie down.

One of the players spent time in the same room as the woman - they kissed and "made out" for a while but did not have sex.

Junior Sefo, 24, of College Rifles. Photo / Getty
Junior Sefo, 24, of College Rifles. Photo / Getty

Today, the player told the court that after he left the room, he shut the door behind him but was unsure if it had locked.

He said when he returned to continue "drinking and yarning" with his friends, they gave him "shit" about being with the woman.

The player's recollection of some events in the hours before the alleged rape differed to the woman's.

Witness Atolo Halangahu, a player who was also drinking with the group, said when the player returned after being with the woman, he was "cheered at" and told he was "lucky to get in there" [with the woman].

Halangahu said she was viewed by the players as being somewhat out of their league.

After the player left the room where he had been with the alleged victim, she fell asleep.

She claims she was "jolted" awake later in the night by Sefo, who was on top of her, having sex with her.

She said she became hysterical and recalled a feeling of trying to push him off her with all her strength.

Sefo's defence lawyer Malcolm English questioned whether the alleged victim's recollection of events was accurate, given that she was drunk at the time.

He said in her interview with police she spoke of "feelings and flashes of memory".

But the woman said her recollection of allegedly waking up with Sefo "on top of and inside" her was clear.

"I know what happened. I was there," she said through tears.

In a witness statement read to the court, another player said the woman sent him a text message after 1am, which prompted him to go to the room she'd slept in.

He said the room's door was closed but unlocked, and he went in to find the woman upset and crying.

The player then left and said Sefo returned to speak to the woman.

About 1.30am the player texted the woman asking if she was okay, and she replied saying Sefo was still with her. She asked him to make Sefo leave.

About 2am the woman went to the player's home to sleep. In the morning the door to the area where the alleged rape occurred was locked.

At lunchtime today, Judge Christopher Field granted Sefo bail to use his mobile phone to delete his Facebook account and to contact family who had read about the trial in today's Herald.

The trial, before a jury of nine men and three women, began yesterday and is expected to last five days.

- NZ Herald

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