A 32-year-old man accused of burglary and indecently assaulting a 7-year-old girl after he was linked by DNA has been discharged.
Hayden John Dallas Matchett was on trial in the Invercargill District Court after pleading not guilty to burglary and indecent assault at Te Anau on March 8, 2002.
The Crown's case was that a man had entered a Te Anau house where the young girl was staying and indecently assaulted her in her bed.
DNA from a cap found in the bedroom matched Matchett's eight years after the incident and he was subsequently charged.
At the closing of Crown evidence yesterday morning, Judge Michael Turner discharged Matchett on both charges after telling the jury that judges had the power to discharge if they considered a jury could not convict on the evidence.
He discharged Matchett under section 347 of the Crimes Act 1961.
Judge Turner told the jury the issue in the case was not whether the girl was assaulted, but who did it. He said evidence had revealed another person fitting the description given by the girl was found by police within an hour of the incident and inquiries were made.
On Monday, a police witness said other people had been spoken to but no other arrests made.
In his opening statement on Monday, lawyer Mike Newell said the defence did not dispute the DNA was probably his client's. The issue was instead whether the intruder wearing the cap was Matchett.
ESR forensic scientist Johanna Veth said the DNA evidence provided extremely strong scientific support for the proposition that DNA recovered from the cap originated from Matchett, but she could not rule out the possibility another person had also worn it.
Matchett declined to comment.
- The Southland Times