Hospital rapist's appeal dismissed

A man convicted of raping a woman at Southland Hospital while she was recovering from surgery has had his appeal dismissed.

Robert Matti Neho was found guilty on a charge of sexual violation by rape during a jury trial at the Invercargill District Court in January this year. The rape took place when the victim was at Southland Hospital in the hospital shower area, while she was recovering from keyhole surgery.

The jury at the time acquitted Neho on six other charges.

He was sentenced in March to eight years and one month jail.

An appeal hearing was held on October 14, before Justices Christine French, Graham Lang and Cameron Mander.

The reserved decision, issued this week, said defence counsel Robert Lithgow QC stated at the hearing, the central issue was the credibility of the complainant.

"...the six acquittals meant the jury had clearly found the complainant was not credible", it was claimed in the appeal.

"The guilty verdict on one incident was, Mr Lithgow said, illogical, perverse and unreasonable. It smacked of the jury wanting to "get [Mr Neho] for something because they didn't like him".

However, the decision said it was possible the jury considered what she was saying in relation to the other charges was likely to be true or even highly likely to be true, but they could not be sure.

"Further, the jury was not obliged to either accept or reject everything the complainant said. They were entitled to accept some aspects and reject others."

The rape at the hospital was a stand-alone event and the jury was required to consider the evidence relating to that event alone. "It occurred on a different day and the circumstances were different," the decision says.

There were principles relating to appeals of inconsistent verdicts and when applying those principles to this case, the justices were satisfied the conviction could be sustained.

"It follows we do not accept that the different verdicts are an affront to logic and common sense or unreasonable as contended by Mr Lithgow. We are satisfied that appellate intervention is not warranted."







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