Rape claim shocked Potaka

By Court Reporter

When Francis John Haami Potaka was told he raped a teenager while two others held her down, his response was one of shock.

"Holy s***! Honest, officer ... I tell you right now that is bulls*** ... that is rubbish, officer ... those guys ... they are young and kind-hearted."

Potaka, 25, is one of three males facing sex assault charges before Judge David Cameron in the Whanganui District Court.

Yesterday, the jury was played a video interview of Potaka at the Whanganui Police Station, where he recalled the events of the night that led to the rape allegations.

Potaka said he did not know the complainant before that night. His account was that everyone was happy and dancing when he and the complainant "hooked up". He said he was "really drunk" and so was the complainant, who he said, looked like she was crying.

The partner of one of Potaka's friends went over to "look after her", he said, then she left, and the complainant started dancing again.

"I think she was trying to get into some of the bros, too."

He told the interviewing officer he would "not say I took advantage ... I was so smashed".

He went on to say that she was kissing and hugging other males and giving out shots of her uncle's home-brew spirits to people at the party. He struggled to remember the events of the night, but then said they were kissing and touching outside the "shed", and the complainant was rubbing him, and he was touching her breasts. He said he could not be 100 per cent sure they had sex at that time.

Potaka said they went back to the party, where the complainant danced with her friends, then they all danced together. He said she was "happy, laughing," and the last time he saw her she was still drinking and had "hooked up with another guy".

He also said he heard "another mate tell her to get off and go away".

Potaka had gone into the police station with his parents on January 24 last year, where he spoke to a police officer and said he had been accused of rape and was "there to sort it out".

Potaka's lawyer, Roger Crowley, asked the officer if it was "par for the course" for people to come to the police station to volunteer themselves on a regular basis. The officer replied they were in a minority.

Today, the Crown will give its closing address, followed by the lawyers for Potaka, Michael Ron Te Weri, 20, and Jesse Akuhata Ngataierua Brider, 19.

Then Judge Cameron will sum up and direct the jury on points of law.

The jury will return to court at 10am tomorrow for deliberations.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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