A Northland man who had recently finished a sentence for rape met a woman through Facebook and over a week sexually violated her and then raped her, a jury has heard.

But in his opening remarks Judge John McDonald has told a jury of six women and six men that it would be wrong to just convict 34-year-old Jessie Arthur Heke-Gray because he had a previous conviction for rape, and they must decide the case in a calm and dispassionate way and set aside any prejudice.

Yesterday in the Whangārei District Court Heke-Gray pleaded not guilty to a charge of rape, five charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, assault with intent to injure, unlawful possession of a firearm, threatens to cause grievous bodily harm and two charges of threatening to kill.

All the charges relate to various locations around Whangārei between October 13 and October 25, 2016.


He admitted one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice on March 28, 2018.

Judge McDonald said normally juries did not hear about previous convictions but where the Crown could say there was a propensity and showed the way a person acted, then they could call the evidence.

"You will decide if that evidence helps you," he said.

Crown solicitor Mike Smith told the jury over the course of the trial, expected to last at least a week, they would hear some "pretty awful things".

"Parts of the evidence will conjure up emotions. Put them back in the bottle, put them to one side and focus on the facts of the case," Smith said.

Outlining the case Smith said it was through social media they met.

The woman then travelled to Whangarei on a bus and met Heke-Gray in the Pak'nSave carpark where he immediately took her cellphone, removed the sim card and told he she would get a new one.

From there "it starts", Smith said.


The woman was driven to a layby near Tamaterau and sexually violated. They then stayed at Flames Hotel where she was sexually violated again.

Over the next week they travelled around and stayed with various family members where she was violated, raped and was threatened with a gun if she though about deceiving Heke-Gray.

It was during a visit to a medical centre in Whangārei for injuries inflicted on her that staff managed to get the woman away from Heke-Gray.

She asked for help and police were contacted.

Defence lawyer Arthur Fairley told the jury at this stage of the trial he was not allowed to debate the Crown case, that would come later in the case, but instead to isolate the issues as the defence saw it.

And the defence did not accept the Crown narrative.

"All sexual activity was consensual,"Fairley said in relation to Tamaterau and Flames Hotel.

In relation to the rape charge, the defence case was sex never took place on that day.

Fairley said there were never any threats to kill made towards the woman using a firearm.

He also urged the jury to put aside prejudice and sympathy.