Accused's brother 'in disbelief' at verdict

01:23, Sep 22 2012

"Let this be a warning to all men," said the brother of a Nelson man who was yesterday found guilty of indecently assaulting his stepdaughter after a second trial.

The girl told the Nelson District Court the man stroked her right breast while watching television in the lounge of their Nelson home, and later in her bedroom indecently touched her and kissed her back on December 30, 2009.

The accused, a former prominent figure, has steadfastly denied the charges, saying the indecent assaults did not happen.

After a three-day retrial, a jury of six men and women yesterday reached a unanimous guilty verdict on the charge relating to stroking the girl's breast and majority verdicts on the two other charges of indecently touching her and kissing her back.

The man, who has name suppression, shook his head in disbelief at the verdicts.

Afterwards his friends and supporters who had been at the court were shocked.

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A long-time friend said: "I just can't believe it. It shows if someone comes up with an allegation of sexual abuse you can't disprove it."

The accused's brother said: "I disagree with the verdict and I think the police investigation was absolutely incompetent.

"If it had been done competently he would never have been charged. Let this be a warning to all men."

During the trial the officer in charge of the case, Detective Neil Kitchen, conceded police had not fully investigated the allegations.

The accused had been found guilty of the same charges after the first trial in May last year.

He was then sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment but did not go to jail as he was released on bail when an appeal was lodged.

At the second trial this week the jury was told it was a retrial, but not why.

It can now be revealed that the Appeal Court quashed his convictions in the first trial and ordered the retrial.

His previous lawyer Jonathan Eaton made the successful appeal but the Appeal Court in its judgment last December suppressed publication of the proceedings and the result until the outcome of the retrial.

The man was arrested on New Year's Eve 2009 and said he was dumbfounded at the allegations.

In court this week, questioned about the effect of the allegations since then, he said it had been devastating.

"I was taken from my home and family, I have never been back, I have never spoken to my partner.

"I have been impoverished - you probably know how much lawyers cost, and I have been on a sickness benefit for 2 years.

"I can only see my daughter on average for 5 hours per week and I have to pay for the supervision."

Asked by his defence lawyer, Pip Hall, how he would describe the last two to three years of his life, he said: "Nightmare is too kind, there were times when I did not think I would make it."

The accused has been remanded on bail for sentencing on November 13.

The Nelson Mail