10 years of guilt over for rape victim

By Louisa Cleave

By LOUISA CLEAVE AND PATRICK GOWER

More than 10 years after a young girl was abducted from her bed at knifepoint and raped, the real offender has been convicted of the crime.

Nicholas Paul Alfred Reekie was last night found guilty of the 1992 kidnapping and rape for which David Dougherty was wrongly convicted.

A jury found Reekie guilty on 30 charges that also covered sexual attacks on three other women, aged from 23 to 69, between December 2001 and February last year.

Mr Dougherty was acquitted of the 1992 rape in 1997 and received a public apology and nearly $900,000 in compensation after serving three years in prison.

The victim, now aged 21, last night spoke about the ordeal for first time.

She had identified Mr Dougherty, her neighbour at the time, as the attacker and he was convicted on the strength of her evidence.

The woman told the Weekend Herald last night she wanted people to know she never meant to cause trouble for anyone.

"If I was wrong, then I feel really bad for him," she said. "For me, he's still the scary man.

It's hard to get that out of your mind."

Forensic evidence cleared Mr Dougherty and the hunt for the real offender eventually turned up Reekie through a DNA match which made him 700 billion times more likely than anyone else to be the offender.

The woman said she had relived the nightmare over and over for the past decade, giving evidence at three trials and facing accusations of lying.

She had just learned that police stated in 1997 that she may have opened her door to someone she knew and had consensual sex.

The accusation has always angered her family, who still want an apology, and now she is furious.

Asked if the identity issue was something she thought about often, the woman said: "Yeah, it is. Because I think if I put the wrong man in jail then I'm a really terrible person. It wasn't deliberate."

She had felt "heaps better" this week.

"After [giving evidence in court on] Monday and having people ask me how it was, it's all going through my head. I've blamed myself for the last 10 1/2 years and I've always thought it must have been my fault in some ways, and I've put myself through hell because of it."

She said some people had suggested if she had not been wrong about the identity of her attacker, other women would not have been raped, "and that really hurt".

The Weekend Herald has been told that Mr Dougherty and Reekie have known each other since they were teenagers and were moving in the same West Auckland circles at the time of the 1992 crime.

Reekie denied the 11-year-old girl's rape and in the witness box claimed not to know Mr Dougherty.

Mr Dougherty said last night through his lawyer that he did not know of Nicholas Reekie before his arrest for the 1992 crime but they knew of each other in prison.

Mr Dougherty also said he did not know Reekie's older half-brother, Chris, who told the Weekend Herald of the connection.

Chris Reekie said the connection between Mr Dougherty and his brother began through him, when he was living at a Mt Eden welfare home called The Glade. There, in the 1980s, Chris Reekie met Mr Dougherty. Nicholas - who is four years younger than Mr Dougherty - was always "trying to tag along with big brother and the boys".

Chris Reekie, who fell out with his brother some years ago, said the connection became stronger in the early 1990s when Reekie was going out with a neighbour of Mr Dougherty's at a West Auckland housing estate.

The two men shared reputations as prolific criminals, both earning extensive records for shoplifting, theft, burglary and cannabis-related offences in the late 80s and early 90s.

Four months after raping Mr Dougherty's neighbour, Reekie kidnapped two girls from their beds in another West Auckland home.

Reekie pleaded guilty to the crime after his arrest and as he sat in Mt Eden jail awaiting sentencing on the abductions, Mr Dougherty was waiting to go on trial for an offence he vehemently denied.

Mr Dougherty was convicted in May and received seven years and nine months' jail for the rape Nicholas Reekie committed.

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