Truckie gave girls gifts because he was 'kind-hearted'

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2014

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A man accused of fondling the breasts of a teenage girl, and asking others if he could do the same, strongly denied the claims from the witness box yesterday.

On the third day of the jury trial, truck driver Garry William Austin, 64, gave evidence in his own defence.

He denies three charges of sexual conduct with an underage teenage girl and four of sexually grooming two others in 2011 and 2012.

In cross-examination, Crown solicitor Cherie Clarke outlined gifts Austin had bought the girls, including a smartphone, "onesie" pyjamas and top-ups for phones.

He replied that he gave the girls the gifts because he was kind-hearted. "I didn't want nothing."

Ms Clarke said Austin asked each girl if he could touch their breasts and in one case asked to have sex.

"Three young ladies are all singing virtually from the same song sheet, so did it happen?" Ms Clarke asked Austin.

"Definitely not," he replied, saying he was unable to have sex.

Austin had earlier explained to his defence counsel Barry Henderson that he was unable to have an erection following a medical accident when he tripped over his drip in hospital, ripping a catheter from his penis. As a result he had erectile dysfunction for 9 years and did not have a sex drive.

The mother and father of one of the girls gave evidence yesterday morning saying that Austin told them that he was in the army's special forces and had been overseas. The mother said Austin also told them he had cancer.

The mother choked up in the witness box as she described when her daughter eventually told her that Austin had allegedly touched her breasts and asked her for sex.

In cross-examination Austin told Ms Clarke he had never said he had cancer but he did have symptoms. It was his uncle who had prostate cancer and all the males in the family had been advised to have a test. He had not done so.

Austin, a former traffic officer, denied he was trying to get sympathy from people by telling stories.

The trial continues today.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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