A 65-year-old man was last night acquitted on all six charges
alleging sexual offending against two young girls.
The jury in the Dunedin District Court took just under six
hours to reach majority verdicts on five of the charges -
four of sexual conduct with a girl under 12 and one of raping
the same girl, with a majority not guilty finding on a charge
of alleged indecency offending against the girl's sister.
Because publication of the man's name would inevitably lead
to identification of the two young complainants, Judge
Michael Crosbie made final the order suppressing the man's
The man had denied six charges - four alleging indecent acts
against one girl, one of raping her and one charge of
indecency against the girl's sister.
He was accused of committing the offences against the first
girl between late 2005 and 2009, the charge relating to the
second girl being from one incident alleged between December
2008 and March 2009.
His trial, before Judge Crosbie and the jury began on Tuesday
and the jury began deliberating just before 3pm yesterday
after the judge's summing up and closing arguments from Crown
counsel Craig Power and Sarah Saunderson-Warner for the
Mr Power told the jurors they would have to consider whether
the complainants were, as the defence claimed, two children
trying to pull the wool over other people's eyes.
He said the Crown contended they were two girls, neither with
an axe to grind, doing their best to tell what the accused
had done to them.
While there had been inaccuracies in their evidence, those
mainly related to peripheral matters, Mr Power said.
The girls were clear on the important issues. And he
described as ''red herrings'' several of the matters raised
He said the girls were honest, credible and reliable
witnesses who had given compelling evidence.
For the defence, Ms Saunderson-Warner said the case came down
to one person's word against another.
The girls claimed the man sexually abused them. He said he
did not. There were no other witnesses to the alleged events.
There had been inconsistencies, loose threads, apparent from
the start of the case and these pointed to the girls' claims
The first girl's account of when and where some events took
place had changed fundamentally from the time she first spoke
to police, suggesting what the girl said was not true.
Telling a lot of people a story over and over did not make
the story true, Ms Saunderson-Warner said.
She asked the jurors to look at the culture in which the
allegations were made. Rape was clearly a topic of
conversation at school.
The first girl said she had not spoken sooner to her family
about what happened to her because ''nobody needs to know'',
yet she had talked about it with lots of people at school.
Judge Crosbie said ''a robust application'' of collective
common sense was needed in the jury's decision-making, when
considering all the evidence they had seen and heard and when
drawing inferences from surrounding reliable evidence.
In assessing the accused's lack of response at the meeting
when the girls' father confronted him with the allegations,
the jurors should not be too quick to find the accused's
silence was an indicator of guilt, the judge said.
It was difficult to consider how a person might respond to
such allegations from an angry father.