A Cromwell man has been found guilty of indecently touching a 6-year-old girl after a jury remained gridlocked and unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
The man, who has interim name suppression, was in the Dunedin District Court this week facing three charges of sexual contact with a child.
The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on two charges, forcing a majority decision.
As the verdict was handed down, the defendant appeared stoic in the dock. He chose not to give evidence in the trial but maintained his innocence.
Counsel Brian Kilkelly said his client would be applying for a discharge without conviction for repeatedly indecently touching the 6-year-old he was trusted to take care of.
This week, details of the offending were aired in court, with the jury hearing from the victim’s parents and the victim herself, who is now 8.
The mother described how she forged a strong friendship with the defendant and his partner when the pair offered to take care of her daughter.
After disclosing the abuse to her father, the girl was forced to move away from her home town to avoid being in the same community as her abuser.
Earlier this week, the girl’s father told the jury of how he had come to learn of the abuse.
"She told me she didn’t want to go back to [the defendant’s] house and I started asking why," the father said.
"She told me that when she was in bed he would come and he would caress her, her back, her bum, her vagina, her legs ... after that I turned my phone on record without her knowing."
A transcript of that recording revealed the young girl telling her father the abuse happened "when I am sleeping and I open my eyes at night".
Counsel Brian Kilkelly suggested the complainant’s father had been the catalyst for the serious allegations and had asked the girl to "give a made up story to the police" in order to attain full custody of his child.
The man said all he wanted was justice for his daughter.
The child told the jury "this is the real story" and the "bad man" had dug into her underwear touching her "private parts".
"She is telling you what happened," Crown prosecutor Robin Bates said.
The man was granted bail and will next appear in February for sentencing.
The option for a retrial on the final charge remained open to the Crown.