Victim files for right to be named

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 01/08/2014

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The victim of an indecent act that is at the centre of a heavy legal battle to name a well-known Central Otago man wants the right to be named.

After a string of appearances, "Mr X" was granted a discharge without conviction on an indecency charge and final name suppression in the Dunedin District Court earlier this year.

In the Queenstown District Court on Monday, Judge Michael Turner heard the latest development in the case in chambers and suppressed the entire hearing.

Fairfax can reveal an application has been filed by the Central Otago woman to lift her automatic name suppression - granted by law to all victims of sexual offending - and that the defendant in the previous proceedings opposes the move.

The man's identity has been revealed by an overseas blogger, who posted photographs and information about the case while former Act leader Rodney Hide has called on National MP Maggie Barry to use parliamentary privilege to name the man.

Barry, a former broadcaster, has revealed that she was groped by entertainer Rolf Harris, jailed in Britain for five years and nine months for a series of indecent assaults against girls, during an interview in the 1980s.

Labour leader David Cunliffe also met "Mr X" recently but has said if he had known about the case no such meeting would have happened.

The woman's case and others have sparked widespread debate in New Zealand about sexual offending and suppression.

The Central Otago case echoes that of the woman at the centre of the Malaysian diplomat scandal, Tania Billingsley, who successfully applied to have her name suppression lifted to appear in a television interview.

Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, a former staff member at the Malaysian High Commission, was arrested on May 9 and charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape after allegedly following Billingsley home. He was allowed to invoke diplomatic immunity and returned to Malaysia.

In court on Monday, the judge also issued a decision regarding an application by Television New Zealand seeking access to the court file, which Fairfax has seen.

His decision suppressed publication of the identities of the victim and the defendant. The name of the defendant was suppressed by the court while the name of the victim was suppressed by law, he said.

The judge granted access to the bulk of the court file, including District Court, High Court and Court of Appeal decisions. Fairfax has also been granted access to the court file.

The man, who is in his 60s, pleaded guilty to a charge of doing an indecent act with intent to insult or offend when he appeared in the Dunedin District Court in March.

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Judge David Saunders granted an application for a discharge without conviction and final name suppression.

Previously, wide-ranging blanket suppression orders applied, including orders not to publish an anonymised account.

In August last year, the man pleaded guilty to the charge and was convicted and ordered to pay $6500 to the victim.

He had applied for a discharge without conviction and permanent name suppression but Judge Michael Crosbie refused and convicted and ordered payment to the victim.

He appealed that conviction and sentence on the basis there was a miscarriage of justice, which the Court of Appeal upheld and, in November, quashed his conviction for doing an indecent act with intent to insult or offend and ordered the case back to the Dunedin District Court to replead.

Justices O'Regan, France and MacKenzie outlined the facts when the man visited a friend in her home in 2011.

She was about to leave the house to go shopping but invited the man in for a cup of tea and her daughter left the house to get the mail.

While they were in the kitchen he approached her and tried to kiss her and touch her on her clothing before putting her hand on his groin. She rejected the advances.

- The Southland Times

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