Mechanic found guilty of rape
Palmerston North mechanic Tony Russell Wells has been found guilty of the rape and sexual violation of a woman but has been acquitted of two other sex charges.
Wells, 32, faced a jury trial, presided over by Judge Les Atkins, for 10 days, on one charge each of raping and sexually violating a woman in 2003, and two of sexually violating another woman in 2006.
He had previously pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual violation from an incident in 2007.
The jury took just over four hours to reach its verdicts.
When they were read out in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday, Wells began to breathe heavily but quickly calmed down.
On March 20, 2003, he picked up a woman who needed a ride home from work. He offered her his mother's place to stay, but instead drove her out to an isolated road near Palmerston North Airport.
He then raped and violated her before dropping her back in the city.
DNA swabs taken from her breasts, and fingerprints found on a condom and condom wrapper, were used to link Wells to the crime.
However, the jury decided Wells had not sexually violated a woman in 2006, who only complained to police in 2010.
She alleged Wells had picked her up after she had a drink with her boss at a bar, before taking her to the outskirts of Palmerston North where he offered her money for sex.
She had claimed he had then violated her before dropping her near her home.
Crown prosector Ben Vanderkolk had painted Wells as a "convincing conman" who prayed on vulnerable women.
Defence lawyer Simon Hewson successfully argued that there were too many differences between the 2006 woman's original statement, her court testimony and that of her boss at the time. He said she had fabricated her story after reading an article in the Manawatu Standard about Wells' 2007 sexual violation.
Judge Atkins remanded Wells in custody until February, when he will be sentenced.