The eight-month investigation into the alleged rape of a Wanganui woman by players from the visiting South Canterbury rugby team has been closed, with insufficient evidence to lay charges.
"Despite exhaustive inquiries, independent legal advice from Crown Law as well as our own legal team, it has been determined there is insufficient evidence to support sexual assault or related charges being laid," Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Forlong of the Whanganui CIB said yesterday.
An investigation began when a complaint was made about a rape by members of the South Canterbury rugby team in Wanganui for a Heartland Championship match. The attack is alleged to have occurred at the Kingsgate Hotel, where the team was staying, in the early hours of September 8.
Police interviewed more than 30 people during the investigation.
"This was a lengthy and methodical investigation," Mr Forlong said. "The investigation team received full cooperation from all those spoken to."
He said should any new information come to light they would consider it as appropriate.
Four South Canterbury players voluntarily stood down while the investigation was under way.
Timaru lawyer Tony Shaw said at the time it was because they were concerned at the suspicion that had fallen on the rest of their squad.
"They were concerned about the rest of their team members and team members' families," Mr Shaw said. "They thought they'd do the correct thing and stand down."
Mr Forlong said police were dedicated to "thoroughly investigating all complaints reported to us," and said sexual assault is a serious crime.
A team of approximately 15 officers made up of staff from Wanganui, Palmerston North and Timaru were working on the investigation at its height.
"We have spoken with the young woman and her family and informed them of our investigation outcome," Mr Forlong said.