Dunedin harassment case: Accused 'very clever' at covering tracks

By Rob Kidd

The Crown says a government employee accused of stalking a businessman for two and a-half years was clever covering his tracks but one small piece of paper gave him away. Photo / File
The Crown says a government employee accused of stalking a businessman for two and a-half years was clever covering his tracks but one small piece of paper gave him away. Photo / File

The Crown says a government employee accused of stalking a businessman for two and a-half years was clever covering his tracks but one small piece of paper gave him away.

The paper, found in the central console of his car, had an email address written on it featuring the surname of the complainant preceded by the word "gay".

The Dunedin District Court previously heard a fake online dating profile had been registered, featuring the business owner's photo and contact details, using an almost identical email address.

In court this morning, the 39-year-old man on trial accused of criminal harassment, threatening to do GBH and intentional damage, explained the scrawled note came from an anonymous text message he had received.

The man claimed he had received the email address along with others and wrote them down on a scrap of paper while he sat in his car.

Since the text message was preserved on his phone, Crown prosecutor Mary-Jane Thomas asked why there was a need for the annotation.

"It seemed a bit bizarre. I didn't know what the significance was so I wrote it down," the defendant said.

Thomas had a different take on it.

"That's old-fashioned, tangible evidence linking you to the charges," she said.

"That was your mistake wasn't it, leaving it in the console of the car?"

The man denied there was any significance in the note.

He has interim name suppression, as does the complainant, until at least the end of trial.

The Dunedin business owner told police over many months he received text messages from various unknown numbers, some threatening, others containing untrue references to him being homosexual.

When police searched the defendant's house they found seven phones, some of which had been bought on TradeMe.

Thomas asked the man why there were so many.

He told the court one was for work, one personal, one was his wife's, another had been set up for children to play games and others had been faulty.

"Did you have bad luck with phones?" the prosecutor asked.

The defendant recounted a story where he was climbing over a fence and broke the screen of one.

"You were very very clever about covering the tracks," Thomas suggested.

But the accused insisted he was not behind the 30-month campaign of harassment.

The trial previously heard how the complainant had his phone number peppered around a popular gay hang out in 2013 resulting in numerous calls and texts, and neighbouring businesses received letters falsely stating he was being investigated by police for sex offences.

He also received a package containing a sex toy at work, a letter at home showing a photo of him in the newspaper defaced by drawings of penises and someone wrote to his wife alleging he was having an affair.

The final witness is expected to be called this afternoon and counsels' closing addresses will likely be made tomorrow.

Judge Paul Kellar is expected to reserve his verdict.

- Otago Daily Times

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