A New Plymouth motor sport enthusiast convicted of sexual offences against teenage boys has failed to have either his conviction or sentence quashed in the Court of Appeal.
Last year Graeme Waswo, now in his late 50s, was found guilty following a trial in New Plymouth District Court of sexually violating a 16-year-old youth and three counts of indecently assaulting him and another youth at his home in 2009.
The former owner of luxury limousine company CoDrive was also found guilty of arson in inciting his two victims to torch the car of a third teenager against whom he had a grudge.
Judge Allan Roberts sentenced Waswo to six years and six months in jail.
In its decision released this week, the Court of Appeal dismissed Waswo's appeals.
The justices rejected Waswo's argument that there should have been not one but three trials; that the judge had not directed the jury on propensity nor warned them strongly enough about the complainants' reliability and that trial counsel made significant errors in the conduct of the trial.
Waswo also submitted that the sentencing starting point was too high and the judge failed to take sufficient account of mitigating factors.
The appeal justices determined there was no basis on which severance of the trials could properly have been granted.
The incidents were all linked, the justices said.
Both complainants were impressed, perhaps overawed by Mr Waswo's access to cars and money, his promises of apprenticeships and his stories about being connected to the CIA, they said.
The incidents had distinct similarities with the unusual feature of a middle-aged male having a sexual interest in teenage boys.
In relation to the arson, trial counsel Kylie Pascoe told the appeal court that Waswo wanted her to pursue the connection with the arson, saying that the boys fabricated the allegations of sexual assault because they were trying to extricate themselves from a difficult situation.
"He wanted her to pursue that theory vigorously at trial, which she did." This was consistent with Mr Waswo's trial strategy.
The jury were directed to look at the evidence separately in relation to each count and a propensity warning to the jury would have added nothing, the appeal justices said.
"We do not accept that any miscarriage of justice arose from the failure to seek severance."
In dismissing the appeal against conviction and sentence, the justice also determined there was no miscarriage of justice by the defence counsel.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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