Sex assault claim 'a dramatisation'

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 08:05 19/03/2014

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Hawke's Bay

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An employee who says she was indecently assaulted by a prominent Hawke's Bay businessman has been told in court that her claims were "a complete dramatisation".

The woman, giving evidence in a trial of her former employer, alleges he groped her repeatedly as she drove him and his friends through Napier on January 28, 2012.

The man, in his 60s, who cannot be named, is being tried in Napier District Court on five charges of indecently assaulting the woman, and one of indecently assaulting another employee the same evening.

The woman alleges he touched her bottom, grabbed her breast, tried to kiss her, put his hand between her legs as she was driving, and that he grabbed her hand while he performed an indecent act.

The man's lawyer, Paul Mabey, QC, accused her yesterday of fabricating the story so she would have "plenty of ammunition" in an employment grievance against the man.

"You have your own reasons for the fantasy that's in your mind, but that's exactly what it is. You may even believe it, but it's unreal, it's untrue, it's a lie," Mr Mabey said.

The woman stuck to her allegations, but admitted to having previous convictions for minor fraud.

The court heard from her ex- partner, who recounted seeing bruises to her left breast and arm, where she claimed the man grabbed her, the day after the incident.

Other witnesses in the vehicle had varied accounts of what occurred.

One recalled the woman being distressed and asking someone to remove the man from the front of the vehicle. Another thought she was "good as gold".

The other alleged victim, who drove the vehicle with the group earlier in the evening, said the man put his head in her lap and left it there for about 10 seconds.

She said he was "bit of an idiot" but she "didn't want to make a fuss", so let it go.

The defendant chose to give evidence. He said he been "a silly bugger" when he put his head in the woman's lap, but had not intended to do anything indecent.

He denied the more serious offending. None of it happened and he did not find the woman attractive or desirable, he said.

The woman may have elbowed him in the face, as she claimed, but this may have been because he was playing with buttons and "being a silly bugger".

The trial is likely to end today.

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- The Dominion Post

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