Woman 'stranded' by police before alleged rape

05:47, Sep 09 2013

A woman says she was repeatedly raped by a man after police took away her car keys and left her stranded in a pub car park in the early hours of the morning.

The keys were confiscated at 4am in the Embankment Tavern car park on June 23, 2011, because the woman was a restricted driver, by two young constables who were in Christchurch on post-earthquake duties.

The woman - a mother in her 30s - gave her evidence today in the Christchurch District Court on the first day of the trial of Joshua Allan Schooner, 26, who denies charges of rape and sexual violation.

He also denies a charge of abducting the woman by unlawfully detaining her at his house where the alleged sex attack took place.

Defence counsel Michael Knowles said the defence would say that it was consensual sexual activity. He urged the jury not to condemn Schooner for conduct "that might not fit your standards".

He told the jury: "I have got a feeling that practically, each one of you is going to find that this is a case where the reality falls well below your individual standards, but we are not here for sexual morality. We are here for criminal charges and from the beginning to the end that must be the focus."

He said there was no dispute that the sexual activity took place, but the defence said that "things went sour afterwards".

The woman felt she had been "somewhat brushed aside" after the consensual activity and there was an element of vengeance or payback in her complaint.

Crown prosecutor Deirdre Elsmore said that on the night in question, the woman had left her children in the care of an aunt when she made a late night visit to play the poker machines at the tavern.

She was not drinking and left the tavern when it closed about 4am.

As she left, she was handed a bottle of bourbon and coke by a man who had about five opened bottles and was giving them to patrons.

In the car park she was approached by two police officers who asked if she was drink-driving. When she explained the bottle, they checked her licence and took her keys away when they found she was outside the time for her restricted licence, the prosecutor said.

The woman broke the car window to get in to try to hot-wire it and asked for help from passers-by. Schooner offered to give her a fork she could use if she went to his house nearby in Oliviers Rd. The mood was "light" and she went with him.

Schooner's uncle was at the house but quickly went to bed and then Schooner's personality changed.

"He suddenly and quite unexpectedly became very aggressive," the prosecutor said.

He dragged the woman upstairs by the jacket and into a bedroom where the sex attack took place.

When Schooner finished he told the woman to "get out" and she took her clothes and found she could not get out the deadlocked doors, so she climbed out a window. She went to a brother's house, and told him she had been raped.

He went back to Schooner's house, scuffled with him, and chased him around Phillipstown with Schooner wearing boxer shorts, the court was told.

Medical tests showed injuries consistent with the attack, and bodily fluids linked by DNA testing to Schooner.

Elsmore said the Crown would also call evidence from another woman who would say that Schooner had became sexually aggressive on another occasion and had been raped in a similar manner.

The complainant told the court of arguing with the police officers and swearing at them. She told them she had not been drinking but just "playing the pokies" and she just wanted to get home to her babies.

One of the officers said: "What are you doing here, spending your babies' money?"

She told the court: "If they hadn't taken my keys it would have been OK. The police didn't ask how I'd get home - didn't really care."

She said that during the attack, Schooner kept saying he loved her.

After describing the sex attack, she said: "He was a totally different person at the house, as though he had a split personality.

"It was really scary. I wanted to fight back but I didn't because I didn't know if he was going to get aggressive and start hurting me more.

"It's all my fault for going there."

The defence put to the woman that had had opportunities to escape or scream for help - Schooner's uncle was asleep in a nearby room - but she had not managed to do that because she wanted to be there and the activity was consensual.

She denied that, saying: "I wanted to do more but was scared."

She denied kissing Schooner during the sexual activity.

She also denied the defence allegation that Schooner told her to, "get out", when he found her going through a chest of drawers.

Knowles said Schooner had lost about $40, a cellphone, and a watch that night.

She denied that when he told her to get out, she told him: "I'll get you. You'll pay for this, you pig."

Knowles alleged she had also threatened to "tell his missus" and that the prosecution arose from her desire for vengeance.

He alleged that the events took place on a night when she had withdrawn her whole benefit payment of $460 from an automatic teller and then lost it all on the poker machines. She said she had only gambled $60.

She denied his suggestion that she had gone out gambling, and then went off with a man when there was a prospect of sex.

The woman's brother told of her arriving at his house, complaining of having been raped. She was upset and walking uncomfortably.

He went to the man's house where he was let in by the uncle. He confronted Schooner who was in bed, and went outside with him.

When his sister arrived and identified him, he grabbed Schooner and punched him.

Schooner then ran away through Phillipstown in his boxer shorts with the man chasing him.

One juror was discharged by Judge Raoul Neave soon after the start of the trial, but it is continuing with a panel of 11.

The trial is expected to take three days.


The Press