Tourist attack charges dropped
A woman charged with attacking a young French couple has walked free.
Judge Jonathan Down dropped the charge against Chardine Andrews in the Napier District Court today.
He ruled that the evidence was too weak. Andrews could be the victim of a miscarriage of justice if the jury found her guilty, Judge Down said.
The 28-year-old was on trial for assault with intent to rob in relation to the attack, about 10pm on October 19 last year.
On the night in question, the Frenchman, 22, and woman, 23, were parked in a car park in Whakarire Ave, in the suburb of Westshore.
They were getting ready to sleep when another car arrived.
A woman approached the tourists for and asked the man for a cigarette lighter. He handed it over.
They told the court through an interpreter that the woman pulled out a pistol and held it against the man's right temple.
He batted the gun away but the attacker, who was telling the couple to open the car boot, retaliated by hitting him under his eye with the pistol, causing a deep cut.
The man pushed her away and wound up the car window, at which point the male assailant opened the back door and tried to push the man out.
The Crown said the woman was Andrews. She claimed it was not.
The Frenchman began beeping the car horn and the assailants ran back to their car and drove away. The woman managed to get the registration plate.
Police matched the plate to Andrews. The next day officers went to her house in Hastings, where they found the car and imitation pistols in her garage.
However, police evidence never put Andrews at the scene. Police admitted that none of the three cigarette butts collected at the scene had Andrews' DNA on them.
Lawyer Roger Philips also questioned the reliability of the victims' identification.
The woman did not pick out Andrews in a photo montage, while the man said Andrews' photo was his first choice between three he could not choose between.
After an application by Mr Philips, Judge Down dismissed the jury telling them the evidence was too weak to convict.
Andrews' claim that her sister had been driving the car that night had never been ruled out by police to bolster the Crown case, Judge Down said.
The Dominion Post