Judge-alone trial falls over when woman admits assault allegations against her ex-girlfriend were a lie

By Rob Kidd

The charge of making a false statement to police has a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment. Photo / File
The charge of making a false statement to police has a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment. Photo / File

A woman who accused her ex-girlfriend of attacking her might end up in the dock herself after admitting she lied to police.

Christine Marie Durham, 25, came before the Dunedin District Court yesterday for a judge-alone trial having been accused of assaulting her former partner Chelsea Kate Linton.

Linton was called as the police's first witness and had only been giving evidence a few minutes when she claimed a statement in her name about the events of June 30 was false.

Judge Kevin Phillips immediately interjected and warned the witness about giving evidence under oath.

"If you lie, you're committing a crime of perjury,'' he said.

Anyone found guilty was usually jailed, the judge told her.

Linton agreed to have a break to obtain legal advice.

Until then she had told the court that she and Durham had been in a five-year relationship.

But the defendant had found some text messages on Linton's phone that night.

"They were just stuff between me and other people,'' the witness said.

When Durham returned after briefly leaving the property, the pair argued in the hallway.

"Just yelling and screaming,'' Linton said.

When asked if there was any physical violence, she said no.

Linton said she called the police because she "wanted the argument to stop''.

Police prosecutor Tim Hambleton referred to a police statement made orally to an officer who arrived at the scene.

Linton alleged her then girlfriend had thrust her palm into her face.

When she denied that was what she had said the judge intervened.

After speaking to a lawyer, Linton accepted she had told the police about an assault but that she had made it up.

With no eye witness evidence, police closed their case and the charge against Durham was dismissed by Judge Phillips.

"There's been a good deal of time and expense involved in this case,'' he said.

"Ms Durham has suffered on at least three occasions where she has been arrested and placed in custody.''

Though it was out of his hands, the judge said it was likely Linton would be charged with making a false statement.

"The court process has been brought, in my view, into a position where the course of justice has been interfered with,'' Judge Phillips said.

He ordered his comments regarding the case be provided to any judge who was to deal with Linton.

The charge of making a false statement to police has a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment.

- Otago Daily Times

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