Partygoer raped, assaulted: court

Sex charges against three Wanganui men which were laid after a boozy party were heard again yesterday following a mistrial in the Whanganui District Court last month.

Francis John Haami Potaka, 25, has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape, three of indecent assault, one of unlawful sexual connection and one of perverting the course of justice.

Michael Ron Te Weri, 20, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of indecent assault, one of sexual violation and one of perverting the course of justice.

Jessie Akuhata Ngataierua Brider, 19, has pleaded not guilty to one count of indecent assault.

The three men and the complainant, now 18, were a year younger in January 2011, when the alleged incidents took place at a birthday party in the city.

Judge David Cameron and the jury of five men and seven women heard the complainant's evidence that she went to the party with two friends. They had been drinking at one of the friends' homes as they got ready to go to the party. On arriving at the party, the "rule" was they had to have a "shot from a test tube to enter".

The complainant also took to the party two 1.5 litre bottles of her uncle's home brew spirits.

The Crown's evidence yesterday centred around incidents at the party, and text messages the next day between the complainant and Te Weri, Ngataierua Brider and Potaka.

The complainant is seated behind a screen and visible only to the jury and lawyers.

At the party, it is alleged, Potaka kissed her uninvited while she was dancing, and then later put his arm around her and pulled her on to his lap, ripped a hole in her tights, indecently assaulted her, then raped her while she sat on his lap.

It is alleged that Brider grabbed her breast, which he denies. His lawyer, Stephen Ross, said his client pushed the complainant on the shoulder to see what was going on as she sat on Potaka's knee.

Te Weri's lawyer, Mark Bullock, told the jury that there was a time when you had to ask someone's father if you could take out his daughter, but these days, when a lot of alcohol was consumed, there was sexual contact between people and they "participated in things they would not ordinarily participate in".

Potaka's lawyer, Roger Crowley, in his cross-examination of the complainant yesterday questioned if there were adults at the party who could have provided supervision, to which she answered, "Yes".

He told her that the two friends who accompanied her to the party had told the police, in separate statements, that the complainant had "drunk one of the 1.5 litres of home brew", that she was "very intoxicated, loud and hyperactive" and that "she could not control herself".

That same friend, Mr Crowley said, told the police that "every time she drinks, she gets wasted". The complainant replied: "That's not true."

The trial continues today and is expected to finish on Friday.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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