Drunk man 'consented' to sex

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 17:39 04/06/2014

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A jury has accepted that a Christchurch man could have given consent for a sex act with another man while suffering from alcohol-induced amnesia.

The 30-year-old defendant thanked the jury from the dock when it found him not guilty after 45 minutes at the end of the two-day trial.

The alleged victim told the jury at the Christchurch District Court trial that he woke up after falling asleep in the back seat of a car to find that the man was performing oral sex.

The man on trial claimed that the alleged victim had asked for oral sex, but suddenly "changed" when the act had been going on for five or six minutes.

Judge Brian Callaghan has granted the defendant final name suppression after the jury's verdict. The man denied a charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection on an alleged victim who has said he is not gay and had his woman partner supporting him at court when he gave evidence.

A Canterbury District Health Board psychiatrist, Dr Erik Monasterio, has given expert evidence about the effects of alcohol-induced amnesia on short term memory.

The jury heard evidence from the complainant that he had experienced memory black-outs at other times when he drank heavily. On the night of the offence - the sexual activity took place in the early hours of May 19, 2012 - he had been on a party bus and had consumed 12 to 14 standard drinks between 5pm and midnight.

He met the other man and was offered a ride after being refused entry to Christchurch Casino.

In his evidence, he said he had no memory of sending two text messages which showed up on his phone about the time the defence is suggesting there could have been a memory black-out, and he had no recollection of smoking cannabis which showed up in his system in toxicology tests taken next day.

Defence counsel Tony Greig said that alcohol often disinhibited people and could make them do things they regretted. It could cause them to say something tactless, or do things they wished they had not done.

Dr Monasterio said it appeared the complainant had experienced memory loss for an undefined period in the early hours of that day. Alcohol could impair the ability of the brain to transfer short term memories into long term memories.

The defence suggested the alleged victim could have asked for oral sex while having a memory black-out, fallen asleep while it was happening, and then woken up with no recollection of making the earlier request.

Crown prosecutor Karyn South said: "It is quite an unlikely proposition if has played out as the defence has suggested."

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Judge Callaghan summed up and the jury retired to consider its verdict at 4.25pm. It returned to court with its verdict 45min later.

- The Press

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