Man guilty of raping drugged woman

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2012

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A 32-year-old man has been found guilty of raping a Stratford woman whose drink was spiked at a party last year.

A New Plymouth District Court jury yesterday found Mark Anton Thomas guilty of rape after four hours of deliberation.

Thomas was granted bail and will appear for sentencing on October 4.

The case was a retrial after a jury in March was unable to reach a verdict.

The Crown said Thomas raped the victim after spiking her drink with a sleeping pill at a Normanby party on April 6 last year.

Thomas initially denied having sex with the woman but later told police he did, but that it was consensual.

The woman told the court she had virtually no recollection of the night after consuming just 1 cans of premixed alcoholic drinks.

She remembered opening the first can herself.

The second can was handed to her already opened but she did not remember who had passed it to her.

Blood samples taken 13 hours after the incident did not detect alcohol or cannabis in her system.

The court was told that hair samples taken from the woman contained traces of a sleeping pill.

Defence counsel Kelly Marriner told the jury that the traces could have been from a month or two before the party.

The party was at the house of a man with whom the woman had a relationship described to the court as "friends with benefits".

The victim said she had not had anything to drink before showing up to the party.

Thomas had been at the house since finishing work that day.

Crown prosecutor Nina Elliott said the complainant was so sick later that night there was no way she could have consented to sex.

Thomas had been hanging around the host's bedroom where the girl had been put to bed.

When she woke in the morning her dress was hiked up and her pantyhose were around her ankles.

"Surely she wouldn't leave them in that uncomfortable state," Ms Elliott suggested.

When the woman asked the host if they had had sex that night he replied no, as he was "buggered by then" and had woken up fully dressed.

Thomas had continuously changed his story throughout the investigation, Ms Elliott said.

"He's simply making the story up as he goes along.

"That's why there's so many inconsistencies."

Mrs Marriner told the court the girl had been seen with her arms around Thomas while dancing at the party.

"Mark Thomas is not the villain that the Crown would have you believe."

The sleeping pill was not strong enough to have made the woman unconscious as it was only used as a sleeping aid, Mrs Marriner said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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