Witness in assault injury trial finally appears; is declared hostile

A Dunedin real estate agent allegedly repeatedly left his partner blackened with bruises, but the woman says she wants to continue their relationship.

The pair, who both lost their jobs after criminal allegations surfaced, had their name suppression assured until at least the end of a judge-alone trial which started at the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

The defendant, aged in his 50s, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of injuring with intent to injure, one of assault with intent to injure and one of assaulting a female.

Since charges were laid more than 13 months ago, there have been numerous adjournments after the complainant failed to attend court for the trial.

Warrants for her arrest were issued more than once as the delays piled up.

She answered her bail yesterday and gave evidence that she was slapped by her partner a few times; nothing more extensive.

"It wasn't a victim-attacker situation,'' she said.

When questioned by police prosecutor Stewart Sluis, she confirmed she wanted to keep seeing the defendant and did not want to get him in trouble.

The court heard there were three incidents through 2017 which were the subject of charges, the first came when the pair attended a birthday party in Christchurch in August.

After the celebrations, the couple argued in the car outside, the woman said.

The defendant slapped her three or four times, she said, before they left for their accommodation.

After the witness was declared hostile, Mr Sluis suggested she had downplayed the severity of the attack.

The complainant allegedly told police she was slapped on both sides of the face with such force that her eyes were blackened and swollen shut.

A doctor whom she saw days after the incident also recorded the woman said she had been struck 50 times.

The woman described her comments as "flippant''.

"It was just a throwaway comment. I'm very surprised [the doctor] wrote that down,'' she told the court.

Mr Sluis also pointed to text messages between the pair in which the defendant berated her about her cannabis use.

"Do you think slapping the crap out of someone is classy?'' she responded.

Another alleged flashpoint occurred in November, after the pair had again been drinking.

The complainant said she was driving with her partner when he "backhanded'' her.

"I was surprised that he whacked me and I was furious,'' the witness said.

So surprised that she drove into a hedge, got out and flagged a ride away from the scene.

The defendant arrived at her home later and they clashed again.

The woman said it was simply a case of her boyfriend restraining her but her friend told police she had disclosed other details to them.

One woman made a statement saying the complainant reported she had been punched, had her hair pulled and been kneed and kicked in the ribs.

Police took photos of her four days after the incident to record her visible injuries.

"It's just superficial bruising,'' she said yesterday.

She said some of it could have occurred when she deliberately crashed the man's truck on the night in question.

Another friend interviewed by officers spoke of another episode the complainant had disclosed to them about the defendant strangling her.

"She feared for her life,'' they said.

The complainant was adamant that had never happened.

Under cross-examination from defence counsel Anne Stevens QC she dismissed her friends' statements to police, saying they were "very possessive'' and did not approve of her relationship with the defendant.

The trial continues today.



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