Accused to be judged without prejudice - judge

Last updated 13:48 21/06/2013
Michael Lihou
Fairfax NZ
ACCUSED: Michael Lihou

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A rape and abduction accused found guilty of having done "awful" things in the past was still entitled to be judged without prejudice, a jury has been told.

In the High Court at Wellington today Justice David Gendall cautioned a jury not to think that because Michael Shane Lihou had been a bad man he must be guilty of the most recent charges against him.

Earlier, Lihou's lawyer Noel Sainsbury said the jury had been allowed to hear about Lihou's previous convictions - rape and abduction in 1988 and kidnapping a woman twice in 1996 - because the Crown alleged it showed a pattern of behaviour.

But Mr Sainsbury said the 17-year-old who accused Lihou, 44, of raping and abducting her in Carterton in July last year, also admitted she knew why he had been to prison in the past.

After smoking too much cannabis and drinking too much alcohol, she had sex with him and embarked on a walk into the Wairarapa countryside with him. As she sobered up, tired, cold and wet, she started to think about how she was going to explain to her father and her boyfriend what she had done.

Knowing what Lihou had been convicted of in the past the teenager decided to work with what she knew and said he had made her do it and would not let her leave.Mr Sainsbury said her story had been "lapped up".

Lihou should not be damned because in 1988, as a lost soul, he had offended, he said. Lihou denies he did abduct and rape a 16-year-old in Canterbury that year. He says that teenager and the Carterton teenager were both willing.

But yesterday the prosecutor, Ian Murray, told the jury there were striking similarities between the two events.

Justice David Gendall said if the jury accepted that Lihou had done the things he was convicted of in the past they could conclude it made it more likely that he did what he is currently on trial for, but only if the evidence established a tendency to act in a similar way.

If the jury rejected the idea that the earlier incidents were like the current ones, then they should put aside evidence about the earlier incidents.

The jury should not think that because Lihou had done bad things in the past he must be guilty now, the judge said.

The Carterton teenager, now 18, said Lihou had been paying her to work for him. He said he was writing a book about his life and needed her computer skills but in her evidence she was not sure about the book and that mostly she just went places with him, sometimes sending texts and emails.

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But he had asked her to number more than 400 pages, among them court and police documents containing information about why he had gone to prison.

She said she was assaulted, raped, and made to go with him into the countryside. 
Police found them on a farm about 8km from Carterton nearly 24 hours after she had arrived at the property where Lihou had been staying.

Lihou has pleaded not guilty to eight charges.

The jury began considering its verdicts just before 1pm.

- The Dominion Post

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