'Acts of kindness' turned to violation

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 12:00 05/12/2012

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He has admitted one charge of sexual violation already and a Linton mechanic is now on trial accused of similar acts against two other women.

Tony Russell Wells, 32, is accused of picking up women who were alone in the middle of the night, offering them rides and taking them to isolated locations where he performed sexual acts.

As the Palmerston North District Court heard yesterday, in 2008 he admitted one charge of sexual violation from an incident the year before.

Just before 3am on September 23, 2007, he picked up a woman, aged in her late teens, who was walking home from a night out in Palmerston North.

He approached her by seeking directions.

Rather than take her home he drove to a road on the outskirts of Palmerston North and violated her in his car.

She fought back, punching Wells and scratching his face.

Now Wells is on trial before Judge Les Atkins and a jury, facing one charge each of raping and sexually violating a woman in 2003, and two of sexually violating another woman in 2006.

The first allegation dates from March 20, 2003, when a middle-aged woman with a mental illness was alone in The Square about 3am.

Wells is accused of walking past her, asking if she was all right, then offering her a lift to his mother's place where she could stay.

"She felt reassured. She felt safe," Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said.

"She just wanted someone to be nice to her."

Wells instead took the woman to an "isolated and deserted" road near the airport and asked her to sleep with him.

He allegedly said "older women like her would do anything to have a young man to have sex with" and then violated and raped the woman before dropping her back in town.

The woman complained to police that night and a used condom and condom wrapper were found at the scene.

Six years later, in 2009, partial prints on that and DNA swabs linked what happened to Wells.

"In essence he said he didn't know anything about any incident in March 2003," Mr Vanderkolk said of Wells' response to the allegation.

On November 4, 2006 he is also accused of picking up a woman, also aged in her late teens, who was walking home after some drinks in town.

He drove her to a country road just out of the city, violated her and dropped her home, Mr Vanderkolk said.

That woman came forward in 2010 and identified Wells from a photo-montage of eight possible suspects.

Wells did not comment when asked about that allegation.

"He offended against each of them under the guise of kindness and assistance," Mr Vanderkolk said of him.

Defence lawyer Simon Hewson did not make an opening statement.

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The trial is expected to finish next week.

- The Manawatu Standard

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