Concerns have been raised regarding potential racial prejudice during a trail for a convicted Wellington rapist.

Poet Lewis Scott was found guilty of rape in a Wellington District Court in February and jailed for six years.

He is now appealing against the ruling.

It was the second trial for the case. He had originally been found guilty in 2017 and jailed to four years - before this decision was overturned and a retrial ordered.


The Crown said the victim had gone to Scott's house for what she considered a business meeting, and after a conversation turned sexual she felt uncomfortable and got up to leave.

Somehow the woman ended up on the ground, where she said she was digitally penetrated, pinned to the floor and assaulted.

Under cross-examination at the time, the prosecution said the woman told the court, "It was not consent, I was held against my will."

However the defence argued that Saturday nights were "traditionally a night for socialising not business meetings" and Scott believed the pair had a convivial evening.

Lawyer Letizea Ord told the Court of Appeal Scott had thought he had good prospects for a sexual encounter after making her a meal.

She said many events happened throughout the night that led to a reasonable belief in consent.

Outlined in the defence argument was potential bias surrounding the defendant's age and race.

The woman was younger and white, and Scott is African-American and 72.


Ord said the Crown calling for jurors to use their "common sense" regarding whether the woman would have had sexual relations with Scott showed subtle prejudices.

However, Crown lawyer Dale La Hood said he did not mention race.

He told the hearing he'd called on the jury to take into account the defence evidence and ask themselves whether its outline of events was plausible.

For Ord, a main point of the appeal was the increase in Lewis' sentence from four years in the initial trial, to six years in the subsequent ruling.

In her argument, she disagreed with the judge's comments regarding the initial four-year sentence being "manifestly inadequate" when six years was the starting point, and the defendant has serious health issues.

But La Hood said the sentence was very generous for the offending.

He said the judge didn't have to just "rubber stamp" the previous Justice's sentence and, from his position, the discount for Scott's health was "clearly enough".

As well as this, the defence argued orders from the Court for Jurors not to research the case online may have had the opposite effect.

Ord said there were also concerns around the emphasis the judge had placed on consent being black and white, which Ord said was a "grey area".

"We believe in a middle ground.

"The judge must understand that the other defence is reasonable belief in consent and the judge is legally required to relate that to the evidence."

The court will release its decision in writing at a later date.

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