Woman attacked after van ride

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 06:38 06/12/2012

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A woman driven to the outskirts of Palmerston North and allegedly raped has told a court about the ordeal.

‘‘If I had a knife with me I would have murdered him,’’ said the woman who was alone in The Square when a man offered her accommodation for the night.

Instead she was given a lift in a ‘‘disgusting van’’.

‘‘And he was disgusting,’’ she said of the attacker – alleged to be Linton mechanic Tony Russell Wells, 32.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the Palmerston North District Court yesterday about what happened to her in the early hours of March 20, 2003.

She was stuck in town after a ride home did not work out when a man approached and offered her a place to stay.

Instead of taking the woman to his mother’s as promised, she said the man drove her to an isolated road near the airport where he raped and violated her.

He then dropped her back in town.

Wells is accused of being the attacker.

He is facing one charge each of rape and sexual violation dating from that night in a trial before Judge Les Atkins and a jury.

He also faces two further sexual violation charges from a night in November 2006 where he is accused of picking up a woman walking home from town after drinking.

The Crown says Wells drove the woman, aged in her late teens, outside the city, violated her and dropped her home.

Wells has previously admitted a sexual violation charge when in September 2007 he picked up a woman, also aged in her late teens, drove her to the outskirts of Palmerston North and violated her.

But she fought back, punching and scratching him. She also noted his number plate, enabling police to find him.

Wells was charged with the 2003 attack on the back of DNA and fingerprint matches with a used condom and condom wrapper found near the scene.

The woman attacked in that incident said she went to the police but did not think they would believe her.

‘‘Bloody mental health [services] have given me an image. When I’ve had stuff stolen police didn’t believe me,’’ she said.

‘‘I thought, I have to do something. This man might do it again.’’

The woman said what happened to her left her feeling empty and the man had taken advantage of her.

‘‘He looked quite respectable, but not good-looking at all,’’ she said.

When questioned by defence lawyer Simon Hewson, the woman said she was feeling low that night after an unfortunate series of events in her personal life.

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She confirmed that after making the original complaint she told police not to pursue the matter and heard nothing more about it until late 2008 when she was told of new forensic evidence.

At that time she was shown a photo montage of possible attackers, including Wells, but did not think any of the men was her attacker.

‘‘I didn’t want to make an absolute decision. I didn’t want to make a mistake and have the wrong man arrested,’’ she said.

The trial continues.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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