Ex-policeman faces indecent assault charges

A former southern police officer allegedly groped his niece’s breasts and bottom when she visited for Christmas, a court has heard.

But his counsel argued the incidents were a fantasy dreamed up by the woman, who had put an "unhealthy spin" on her uncle’s actions.

The man, who has interim name suppression, appeared before Judge Jim Large in the Dunedin District Court for a judge-alone trial on four charges of indecent assault yesterday.

The charges stemmed from a visit by his niece, by marriage, to him and his wife at their Otago home between December 23, 2018, and January 5, 2019.

The woman alleged she first felt uneasy on Christmas Eve when she felt a touch on her bottom as the man passed her while she painted on the veranda, but believed it could have been accidental.

However, when the pair went out for a walk on Christmas morning, the woman said the man told her she could "come down and live here", and that he could get rid of his wife.

He also hugged the woman tightly, she alleged.

They returned to the house for Christmas lunch, and the woman alleged her uncle patted her on the bottom while she was getting something off a bench.

The next day, she said she decided to "appeal to the police officer in him".

She told her uncle she did not like his advances, that she did not wear provocative clothing, and that she was not open to it.

Despite this, she said he continued to pat her on the bottom when he would walk past her. When it happened, she would tell him to stop.

During her visit she worked remotely from a desk in her bedroom.

On January 4, when her uncle walked in, put his hands on her shoulders and started massaging them.

She said she directed him to move his hands down a bit as her back was sore.

She claimed he then "latched on" to her breasts and tugged them.

"My hands flew up and I tried to knock his hands away.

"I was shocked, absolutely just shocked," the woman said.

She alleged he later made an inappropriate comment to her while she was washing her car.

"I felt dirty. I felt just horrible."

She left the house and called a friend, who advised her to drive home the next morning as it was too late to return home that night.

She said she put a wedge under her bedroom door that night to stop the man from entering.

She left the next morning, and reported the incident to a police officer.

The officer said he was conflicted because he was a friend of the man’s, and advised her to contact other police, which she did.

Defence counsel Anne Stevens QC submitted the woman was putting an "unhealthy spin" on events and the alleged incidents were "a complete fantasy".

She pointed out that the woman chose to spend time with her uncle throughout her visit, which the woman acknowledged.

Mrs Stevens also pointed out the woman asked to hold the man’s hand while they were walking through scrub on Christmas Day.

The woman said she did so to avoid falling over, and let it go as soon as they reached the track.

Mrs Stevens also suggested the woman had in fact fallen over, got several prickles in her hand, and started crying, leading the man to hug her to comfort her.

The woman strongly denied that.

The man’s wife gave evidence that the woman had fallen and got several prickles that needed removing.

She told the court she had seen nothing untoward during the woman’s visit, and that her niece had not complained about any inappropriate behaviour.

When asked why she did not leave the house earlier, the plaintiff said she believed she would be able to convince him to stop.

A friend of the woman, appearing via video link, said she had called him on the night of the alleged bedroom incident and told him what had happened.

He said the woman broke down in tears at a family birthday dinner on the night she returned home, when indecent assaults were being discussed.

The trial continues today.


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