Likely evidence of rape strewn across road

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 14:30 07/12/2012

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As dawn broke across Palmerston North, signs of an alleged rape became visible on the side of a country road.

In the early hours of March 20, 2003, a woman arrived at the city's police station to complain about what happened to her that night.

It is alleged her attacker befriended her when she was stranded in The Square, unable to get home.

The woman said the man - alleged to be Linton mechanic Tony Russell Wells - offered her a place to stay, but instead drove her to an isolated road near the airport where he raped her, before dropping her back in town.

After the woman told police what had happened, Sergeant Graham Wehipeihana took her out in a patrol car to try to find the crime scene.

They pair slowly drove down Richardsons Line in the near-dark about 5am. The woman didn't say anything so Mr Wehipeihana turned around and drove the road again as the autumn day began to break.

About a kilometre from the Milson Line intersection he saw something on the side of the road.

"I noticed some white papers. I stopped my vehicle and got out to have a look - physically search the area," Mr Wehipeihana told the Palmerston North District Court yesterday. He was giving evidence at the trial of Wells, 32, who is accused of attacking the woman that night.

Wells faces one charge each of rape and sexual violation from that incident and two further sexual violation charges dating from November 2006. On that occasion he is accused of picking up a woman walking home from town, driving her to the outskirts of the city and violating her.

The Crown says that after the March 2003 rape, Wells cleaned up with paper towels and that is what Mr Wehipeihana found on the side of the road, as well as a condom and a condom packet.

Defence lawyer Simon Hewson asked Mr Wehipeihana why he hadn't mentioned in his notebook from the night that he saw the woman in Cuba St at 2.30am and told her to go to the police station when she told him what happened to her.

"I can't recall that incident," Mr Wehipeihana said.

Dr Ashok Dahya examined the woman that morning and found red marks on her right arm and on her back. It was difficult to say how much force would have been used to create those.

Dr Dahya said he took swabs from the woman's breasts.

The Crown says these had samples of DNA that linked Wells to the crime, and his fingerprints were found on the condom wrapper.

That came to light after Wells admitted a charge of sexual violation dating from 2007.

The trial continues.

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- Manawatu Standard

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