Babysitter appeals conviction for sex with 14yo

Last updated 17:42 23/05/2011

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A 41-year-old man convicted of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl he was babysitting has appealed his conviction in the Court of Appeal at Wellington today.

Brent Haskell was convicted in November on four counts of sexual connection with a person under 16 and one count of doing an indecent act with a young person.

He was sentenced to three years imprisonment, but has maintained his innocence.

Haskell babysat for the victim on Thursday nights from December 2009 while her mother attended meetings. The girl's mother suspected something was going on and questioned the pair but the relationship continued until April last year when the victim told her counsellor.

Defence counsel Michael Kidd appealed the conviction on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to disclose relevant evidence which had caused a miscarriage of justice, the judge's summing up was inadequate and court was not impartial.

The defence had not been allowed to cross-examine the complainant and wanted Child, Youth and Family evidence that the victim had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to be admitted. The defence had also wanted a psychologist to assess the complainant and wanted her prior sexual history to be included in evidence, Dr Kidd said.

Crown counsel Fergus Sinclair said the appeal was without merit and the prosecution had fulfilled its pre-trial obligations.

Justice Simon France said evidence on the victim's sexual history would have been counterproductive for the defence anyway as it showed she was capable of a sexual relationship at such a young age.

The victim said she had been sexually active for some years and had two other one-off partners while in a relationship with Haskell. Her evidence suggested she thought Haskell was kind at first but did not like him much as she began to lose control of the relationship.

Dr Kidd also said if the conviction was not quashed then his client should be able to serve the three-year sentence in home detention.

Justice France, Justice Susan Glazebrook and Justice Christine French have reserved their decision.

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- NZPA

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