A Hawke's Bay businessman charged with obtaining sexual services from a 16-year-old girl has been found not guilty.
The man, who has had interim name and occupation suppression, has been on trial in the Napier District Court in the past two days before a jury of seven men and five women, and Judge Michael Crosbie.
The jury had retired at 3.04pm to consider its verdict, and returned at 4.55pm to deliver a not guilty plea.
The man had been charged under the (Prostitution Reform Act) with obtaining sexual services from a person under 18.
The alleged offending had dated back to August/September in 2006 in Napier. The girl was aged 16.
The woman, now in her late 20s, had previously told the jury the accused agreed to pay her for sex; they agreed on a price and then later agreed he would pay extra, but he did not.
The man had said he had never taken the woman back to his house, had not had sex with her and had not paid her.
In his address to the jury, Judge Crosbie noted the length of time between the alleged events of 2006 to now.
"There is an elapsing of time, this happened 12-13 years ago and there's caution for assessing evidence as there's been such a delay," he said.
The woman who had described the man's bedroom, telling the jury she had placed her jewellery in a silver bowl by the man's brass bed.
She had also noted there was a Tiffany-style lamp in the room and various artwork. A song Lay Lady Lay was playing, she had said.
The man said"there was no Tiffany lamp, there was no silver bowl. There never was."
The man had also denied the song was playing.
Judge Crosbie said the Crown accepted that "some of the times were inaccurate – and the layout of the house. She recalled the effect of removing her jewellery. She felt naked and vulnerable."
In his closing address to the jury, Crown prosecutor Richard Jenson had said the woman was taken advantage of in 2006 on a day "seared in her memory".
The woman's character was "down to Earth" and she was open about her past, he said.
"She didn't shy away from anything. She showed raw and real emotion of what happened, it's an event that stayed with her, it's not an account she would make up."
Defence counsel Chris Tennet told the jury he gave the prosecutor's speech "a D" and labelled it "cheesy".
"My learned friend didn't address the real facts and issues," he said.
Tennet also said the Crown did not address the extra money the woman said she was not given.
"The Crown never asked her, never addressed it. How much was that extra? How much? He [the accused] said it didn't happen.
"She started off in three stages, teary and upset, then after lunch, evasive, is that relevant?
"She was great in the witness box, just putting the knife in and twisting it a bit, wasn't she?"
The Crown also accused the man of "slipping up".
Jenson showed the man an object in a photograph taken inside the man's house, and alleged it was the silver dish the woman had described.
"You've slipped up, haven't you?" Jenson said. "You've given us a photo of the silver dish."
"It's a glass jar," the man replied.
On the first day of the trial, the woman said she knew of the man as he once visited people she was living with.
She said in 2006 they bumped into each other in Napier. The man asked her to accompany him on a business trip and said he would buy her a dress and dinner, but she declined.
"It wasn't worth my time," she said.
The woman said her circumstances later changed after someone close to her died, and she became "pretty messed up" and used drugs to "blank her emotions".
She contacted the accused and asked if he wanted to "catch up".
She and the man had then struck the deal that she alleged turned sour when he underpaid her.