Jury told to focus on reasonable doubt

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 07:39 21/09/2012

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A jury considering whether a former prominent man indecently assaulted his stepdaughter continued its deliberations for a second day today.

The accused, who has name suppression, has denied three charges of indecently assaulting the teenager on December 30, 2009.

It is the second hearing for the accused but the jury has not been told why there is a retrial.

In the hearing which began on Tuesday the girl told the 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.
The accused who gave evidence said the alleged indecent assaults did not happen.

Judge Peter Butler, in summing up yesterday afternoon, told the jury to focus their deliberations on the issue of whether the events did actually happen.

"You must ask yourselves has the Crown proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused touched the complainant in the way alleged in the counts,'' he said.

Prosecutor Mark O'Donoghue, in his closing address, said the accused had drunk more than usual that night and become disinhibited and did something out of character.  

He told the jury he had prosecuted the case more in sadness than in anger.

"In consideration of the whole of the evidence you can be sure (the girl) has told the truth and the accused has committed the three offences he is charged with,'' he said.

Defence counsel Pip Hall called it a tragic case.

In his closing address, he said the girl's evidence was inconsistent, jumbled and confused.

She had convinced herself that something had happened, it was a real belief, and it snowballed.  After she told her mother and the police, there was no going back because she had invested too much in her allegation, he said.

The event she described in the lounge could not have happened in that window of time, said Mr Hall.

"If it could not occur it throws the whole Crown case into doubt because if the first did not occur what about the second and the third?"
The jury deliberated for two hours yesterday and resumed today.

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- The Nelson Mail

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