Convicted man to appeal case again

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 14/11/2012

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A former prominent national figure intends again appealing his conviction and sentence for indecently assaulting his stepdaughter.

The man, whose name is suppressed, was yesterday sentenced to seven months home detention - in contrast to an earlier sentence of 15 months jail.

He has fought the three charges of indecent assault of a young person under 16 through two jury trials in the Nelson District Court.

The girl said 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 man said none of that happened.

After the first trial last year he was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment but appealed and was released on bail.

The Court of Appeal quashed his conviction and ordered the retrial which was held in September.

Now he intends appealing again.

"I am appalled that I can be found guilty of a crime I did not commit on the basis of uncorroborated allegations," he told the Nelson Mail.

He has 28 days to decide whether to lodge the appeal. His lawyer Pip Hall confirmed it was a possibility.

During both trials the police investigation was questioned.

The man told the Nelson Mail: "All I ask is for them to do their job. They admitted under oath they did not conduct a scene investigation to test the allegations, they asked leading questions when the girl was interviewed, they did not arrange a medical examination of her, nor DNA and saliva testing and they did not conduct interviews with the house guests whose objective evidence shows I simply could not have done what was alleged. Surely that's just police work 101.

"I am not asking for special treatment, I'm asking for a fair go and I have not had a fair go through all this."

Head of Nelson CIB, Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne McCoy told the Nelson Mail today he believed the police investigation was the best it could have been.

A medical examination was considered at the time to be of minimal value and the trauma the girl would have gone through was also taken into consideration.

Mr McCoy said the house guests were not interviewed because they had arrived home afterwards and did not witness any offending. It was not the police's job to interview them as character witnesses.

"He claims he is innocent, and two juries have found him guilty," Mr McCoy said.

At the sentencing yesterday, Crown prosecutor Mark O'Donoghue said it could be characterised as a one-off aberration.

It was a case where the Crown should respect the views of the teenager and her mother who did not want the man imprisoned, he said.

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Mr Hall said the case had been a tragedy at multiple levels, and a three-year ordeal for all concerned.

The man was not seen as a risk to others, he said. "His prospects now of employment in his chosen field and any meaningful relationship with his natural daughter are bleak and that is sad."

Judge Peter Butler said the jury had believed the complainant.

"At the trial you maintained the complainant was totally mistaken and may have imagined what had happened - that factors that may have lain behind that mistake may have been a quantity of alcohol, the effect of that alcohol on medication and literature she had been reading."

However, it was never put to her that she was lying or fabricating her evidence.

"That was a measure of the regard you had for her. You could have instructed your lawyer to attack on the basis of integrity and say she was lying."

The impact statement indicated she was now sad, confused and somewhat angry.

Judge Butler noted the man had no previous convictions.

"You were a man of some standing in the community before and you have fallen further than most.

"I do not consider the community needs protection from you," he said.

Judge Butler said he had read the references and letters of support filed with "views that you are innocent of this offending".

He ordered permanent name suppression in the interests of the complainant, and noted that publicity and information distributed illegally had revealed his identity. "I am sorry that happened."

In sentencing him to seven months home detention Judge Butler ensured that conditions allowed the man contact with his own daughter.

- The Nelson Mail

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