Crown loses '50 Shades' appeal

Last updated 21:42 24/07/2014

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The Crown has lost its appeal in the case of a woman who claimed she was raped by her ex-husband – after he pretended to be someone else during their sexual encounter.

The case was first heard in the New Plymouth District Court and attracted wide media coverage because it echoed the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy.

The man was acquitted and the case thrown out by Judge Allan Roberts, who didn’t believe the woman’s claims that she didn’t know she was having sex with her ex-husband, believing him to be somebody else.

Roberts described it at the time as ‘‘the most extraordinary’’ trial he’d ever sat in on.  

The defendant, a Stratford man, faced rape charges relating to sexual encounters he’d had with his estranged wife the previous year.

They had separated after 15 years of marriage and had two children together but kept in close contact. In August 2012 the man texted his ex-wife from a different phone number, pretending to be an acquaintance of his, a 20-year-old man his wife had met briefly before.

Over a two month period the texts became sexual in nature and eventually the pair arranged to meet but the defendant stipulated the woman had to wear a blindfold and he would wear a mask. 

His lawyer, Paul Keegan, said the popular erotic novel trilogy, 50 Shades of Grey, had inspired his client’s communication. 

The couple never spoke over the phone and texts to a friend showed the woman was suspicious that she was communicating with her ex-husband but had sex with him under these arrangements three times anyway. 

On the third occasion, after their contraception failed, the woman pulled the man’s balaclava off to reveal his true identity. 

During the trial she repeatedly said she genuinely believed the man she was having sex with was the younger man she’d met once and that if she’d known it was her ex-husband she would never have agreed to the meetings. 

However, during cross examination she admitted there was a risk that it was her ex.

After his acquittal, the Crown appealed.

The Court of Appeal, in a judgment released yesterday, said  ‘‘the totality of evidence’’ showed the woman knew it was one man or the other and went ahead with the sex without resolving the question and therefore the appeal had to be dismissed.

Keegan said his client was feeling ‘‘very, very relieved’’. 

‘‘And to some extent vindicated. He just wants to get on with his life. The whole thing has been extremely embarrassing for all parties.’’ 

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The Crown Law Office didn’t return phone calls.

- Stuff

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