Street kid sex accused thought girls were of age

04:32, Aug 21 2012

The jury in a the trial of a 66-year-old man who allegedly paid for sex with street kids has retired to consider their verdict.

The man, who has name suppression, is charged with 19 offences, including sex with girls aged from 14 to 17 and supplying methamphetamine and cannabis.

The jury retired this afternoon.

The Crown alleges the man created a child friendly environment in his home in an upmarket Auckland suburb, luring seven vulnerable street kids in with the promise of money, drugs and alcohol.

However, the defence claim that although the man paid for sex, he believed the girls were of legal age.

A person under the age of 18 is not allowed to work as a prostitute.

Defence lawyer Nicholas Wintour said the defendant always asked the girls their age, but they lied about being 18.

His client even turned a girl away because he suspected she was too young, he said.

The man's most recent alleged offending occurred while he was subject to a bail condition banning him from associating with young people.

The prosecution argued the man knew full well the girls were underage.

"[The man's] sexual drive is for young persons. That's what motivates him and perhaps what gets him out of bed in the morning," prosecution lawyer June Jelas said.

As a mature man with previous convictions for sex with underage girls he should have made more of an effort to check their age, she said.  

"Simply asking their age is insufficient."

The victims earlier told the High Court that the man would wander the house wearing only a dressing gown and preferred young, skinny girls.

He would give the girls a place to sleep and money for bus fares and movies. The girls said they would have sex with him.

Many had run away from dysfunctional families and Child Youth and Family care, the court heard.

Justice Christopher Toogood told the jury that when they decided on the charges they needed to ensure there was a payment or reward exchanged for sexual services.

The jury must also consider whether the accused genuinely believed the teenagers were over the legal age, he said.

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