Spiritual medium's message influenced indecent assault complaint, says defence lawyer

New Plymouth District Court Judge Chris Sygrove is presiding over a trial involving allegations of indecent assault.
CHARLOTTE CURD / FAIRFAX NZ

New Plymouth District Court Judge Chris Sygrove is presiding over a trial involving allegations of indecent assault.

A message sent by a dead man to a spiritual medium prompted an indecent assault complaint to be made, a defence lawyer has claimed.

Nathan Bourke said his client, who has interim name suppression, only gave the complainant a massage to relieve her neck pain and there was no truth to claims he indecently touched the woman.

The accused, who is from Taranaki, is alleged to have assaulted the complainant twice during a visit to her home in March 2016. He was there after offering to help the woman sort out property after the death of her husband, who had been a friend of the accused.

The case, which is set down for two days, is being heard by a jury made up of five men and seven women in the New ...
ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ

The case, which is set down for two days, is being heard by a jury made up of five men and seven women in the New Plymouth District Court.

During the man's trial in the New Plymouth District Court, Bourke said the idea for the woman to go to the police was planted in her head after her daughter visited a medium, or a person who communicates with spirits, one month after the alleged assaults.

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Bourke said the medium told the complainant's daughter he had connected with the spirit of her late father, who sent a message back stating he "was not very happy" with what took place between the complainant and the accused and that the police needed to be told.

The complainant denied this information had any sway on her decision to go to the police and she rejected Bourke's persistent questioning around the nature of the encounter, repeatedly saying that at no stage did she agree to the accused touching her in any way.

"There was no consent, there was no questioning, nothing," she said.

However, she admitted it did take her two months before she went to the police, but said other factors had influenced this decision.

Prosecutor Cherie Clarke said when the two were alone, the accused "suddenly and unexpectedly" came up behind the complainant and started to massage her shoulders before he lifted up her shirt.

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She said the accused touched the woman's stomach and moved his hands upwards, stopping just underneath her breasts. The man then unhooked the woman's bra and touched her again, she said.

Clarke said the accused had made comments about her breasts and also suggested to her that she needed to have "some fun".

Bourke said the allegations were denied by his client and while there had been physical contact between the two, it had been a massage the complainant had agreed to receive. 

The defendant previously pleaded not guilty to two charges of indecent assault.

The complainant was the first of three witnesses to give evidence as part of the Crown's case.

She said the accused started to massage her shoulders with some force, which she described as painful.  

"The next thing, he's up under my top," she said.  She said she was wedged between the accused and her car, which was parked in the garage.

"There was absolutely nowhere I could go and nothing I could do," she said.

The complainant's daughter also gave evidence at the trial and described how "freaked out" and upset her mother had been after  the alleged assault.

She also spoke of her visit to the medium and while the accused was not mentioned by name, he was referred to as a "close friend" of her father.

The complainant's daughter said her late father, through the medium, encouraged them to go to the police about what happened.

The witness told the court the medium's message had been one of the factors involved in the decision to lay a complaint.  She said she had been confident it was a genuine communication.

"There was other stuff he (the medium) said that actually came to pass as well," the complainant's daughter said.

Following the completion of the Crown's case, no evidence was called by the defence.

Closing arguments in the trial will begin on Wednesday morning.

 - Stuff

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