Two police officers, one a high-ranking inspector, allegedly kidnapped a teenage boy and threatened him with a rape charge in an attempt to end an underage love affair, a court has heard.
Inspector Hurimoana Dennis and Sergeant Vaughan Perry are both on trial in the High Court at Auckland before a jury and Justice Edwin Wylie for allegedly kidnapping a then 17-year-old.
The teen was in a relationship with his then 15-year-old girlfriend, with both living at their parents' homes in Auckland during early 2015.
However, in March "things somewhat blew up" as the boy's family grew concerned about the nature of the relationship, Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said during his opening address.
The teenage boy's mother also filed a formal complaint with police about her son, alleging he was having a sexual relationship with a minor.
However, Detective Sergeant Neil Hilton, the officer tasked with the complaint, determined that no charges should be laid.
On May 5, Dennis, a family friend, organised to have the 17-year-old picked up by another officer and taken to the Auckland Central Police Station.
While there, the teen was booked and processed by Dennis and Perry, the duty custody sergeant, as if he had been arrested.
The teen was initially placed in an interview room where he felt he was "not in a position to get up and leave", Dickey said.
"He was told he would go to Australia and start a new life or be charged with statutory rape," Dickey said.
Dennis allegedly told the 17-year-old that he would "take him down to the cells and charge him with rape" before spending the night there ahead of a court appearance the following day.
"He was treated as if he was arrested or was to be detained by the New Zealand Police," said Dickey.
The mock arrest led to the teen believing his details were being entered into the police's database for offenders and he was also forced to remove his clothes, the court heard.
A yellow wrist band was also placed on the teen, which is police practice for those arrested prior to appearing in court, Dickey said.
The teen was later placed in a locked cell by Dennis, Dickey added.
"I'm going to keep you in here and you're going to court charged with rape," the prosecutor said Dennis told the boy, who was "extremely distressed" at being "threatened by a police officer, a senior police officer".
The teen accepted the offer to move to Australia and was escorted to Auckland Airport and placed on a plane to meet relatives in Sydney.
Dickey said the teen's time in Sydney was "pretty unhappy" as he was separated from his immediate family and girlfriend.
His passport and phone were also confiscated - stranding him in Australia, Dickey said.
However, the teen devised a plan to get his passport back and return to New Zealand by telling his Sydney relatives that he needed it to start a bank account in New South Wales, Dickey said.
On June 10, 2015 the teen caught a plane home to New Zealand, but Dennis caught wind of the teen's return and "swung into action", the court heard.
Dennis, the police's national Maori strategic adviser, made contact with the officer in charge at Auckland International Airport and arranged for police to meet the 17-year-old as he exited the plane.
When the flight landed his name was broadcast over the plane's speaker system and the teen was ushered off the aircraft and escorted away by two armed police officers, Dickey explained.
The teen was then told by Dennis not to come back to the country until he was 18, the prosecutor said.
At 7.02pm, after spending more than two hours with police at the airport, he was put on another flight back to Australia.
"This should never have ever happened to a returning New Zealand citizen," Dickey said.
After returning to Sydney the teen claims he was assaulted and beaten to be "taught a lesson".
Dickey said the teen then began trying to "escape" back to New Zealand and when the opportunity arose he fled to friends of his girlfriend's mum in Sydney.
The teen then reported the assault to New South Wales Police and explained he was a New Zealand citizen unable to return to his country.
Dennis was stood down in September 2015 shortly after a complaint was laid by the teenage boy.
His counsel Stephen Bonnar QC asked the jury during his opening statement to "look at the big picture".
"Was it some conspiracy between [Dennis] and the young man's family? Or, [Dennis] trying to help a 17-year-old Maori boy who was committing an offence. And let there be no mistake about that, [the teen] was committing a crime ... He was having sex with a 15-year-old girl," Bonnar said.
"So was Inspector Dennis trying, as the defence says, to prevent another young Maori male becoming another statistic in the system?"
Bonnar said his client's actions were in accordance with Maori cultural customs, police strategy, and the law.
Perry's lawyer Todd Simmonds, when making his opening statement, made it clear his client should be viewed separately from Dennis' actions.
The trial continues.