Navy sex case: Jury unable to reach verdict

By Amelia Wade

The jury has been unable to reach a verdict. Photo / File
The jury has been unable to reach a verdict. Photo / File

After almost 16 hours of deliberations, the jury in a Navy sex trial has been unable to reach a verdict and has been discharged.

The Crown will now decide if it will go ahead with another trial.

If it does, it will be the third time this charge will be tried. The first trial was aborted because a member of the original jury "broke the rules".

Scott Christopher Devonport Ward is on trial charged with sexually violating a junior Naval officer by way of unlawful sexual connection in October 2011.

About 3.20pm today, Judge Claire Ryan told the Auckland District Court the jury was at "a stalemate", discharged the jurors and thanked them for their service.

As she did so, Ward's mother stood up and started crying while the defendant rested his head in his hands.

This morning, the jury was called back into the courtroom in the Auckland District Court and Judge Ryan reminded them they were under oath to try their best to come to a unanimous verdict.

Judge Ryan gave them the option of reaching a majority verdict where 11 of them agreed but one did not.

The woman, who has automatic name suppression, alleges Ward came into her cabin uninvited and forced his way into her bed.

The name of the ships involved are suppressed, as well as aspects of the ranks of those involved, details of Navy business and details about the witnesses.

The woman said Ward pinned her down, groped her breasts and digitally penetrated her against her will, only stopping when another person entered the cabin.

However, Ward's defence was that the encounter was consensual otherwise he wouldn't have gone as far as he did.

Ward's lawyer, Anthony Rogers, also said during the trial the woman was an unreliable witness who took two years to make a complaint about the violation despite many opportunities available to her.

The Crown and Ward's legal team will reconvene in a month to see if the prosecution will go ahead with another trial.

Ward has been remanded on bail.

- NZ Herald

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