Kaipara man Bevan Edward Tiller walked out of court a free man after three arduous trials, including a hung jury and an appeal against earlier convictions.
The 39-year-old was found not guilty by a jury in the Whangarei District Court on Tuesday on three charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, one of rape and another of doing an indecent act. The charges related to separate complainants and it took the jury just over an hour to reach their verdicts.
After his first trial in April 2011, Tiller was found guilty on one charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, one of unlawful sexual connection and another of doing an indecent act. The jury couldn't reach verdicts on charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and rape.
The Court of Appeal remitted the convictions back to the District Court for a retrial. After the retrial, the jury couldn't decide on all five charges and another retrial had to take place. The third trial started before Judge Stan Thorburn last week.
Opening the Crown case before the jury, prosecutor Nicole Dore said the alleged offending started in 2004 and in July 2010, Child Youth and Family (CYF) became aware and two months later, police were notified. The complainants gave interviews to police in December 2010 and Tiller was questioned by police in January 2011. Tiller told police detective Andrew Bailey that if the sexual acts happened as claimed by the complainants, it may have taken place in his sleep. His lawyer Arthur Fairley told the jury the alleged acts simply didn't happen.
In his summing up Judge Thorburn told the jury consent wasn't an issue because the defence had said all along that the alleged acts didn't happen. It wasn't enough, he said, for the Crown to say that Tiller was probably or very likely guilty but to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt.
A small group of Mr Tiller's supporters, including his father and former Kaipara mayor Neil Tiller, was in court throughout the trial.