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John Ronald Perry (39) - also known as John Arthur - appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual conduct with a child.
His counsel David More suggested to the jury of seven women and five men that the idea of the indecent assault had been planted in the girl’s head by her mother’s questioning.
He also stressed there were other men who visited the home south of Dunedin, not just Perry.
The complainant was interviewed by police less than a week after she told her mother she had been touched, in June last year.
She told Constable Judy Powell she had been sleeping on a chair in the lounge while Perry lay on the couch beside her.
She said awoke to find him touching her in “the private area”, prompting her to later flee to her mother’s bed.
The court heard Perry had been to the house about 10 times.
“I don’t like him... and he makes a mess,” said the girl.
Crown prosecutor Craig Power said the jury would hear evidence that Perry regularly visited the home and would babysit the children.
The complainant’s mother was expected to describe asking her daughter whether the defendant had touched her. The girl said he had.
A teenage girl, who was boarding at the address at the time, witnessed the conversation and would give evidence later in the trial, Mr Power said.
When police approached Perry with the allegations in July he was not immediately arrested, though he was later summonsed to appear in court as the investigation progressed.
Mr Power said police reviewed the defendant’s phone messages and believed they showed he was in the town in June when the alleged act took place.
The 5-year-old girl told police she had not told her mother immediately because she was “scared”.
“I told mummy, then she cried,” she said.
Mr More said the deliberate touching of the complainant’s genitalia would undoubtedly be indecent, but stressed his client denied responsibility.
He urged jurors to keep an open mind until they had heard all the evidence.
The trial, before Judge David Robinson, is scheduled to last three days.