A leading figure in the New Zealand entertainment industry is on trial in the High Court at Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner
A leading entertainment figure facing serious rape and sexual assault charges has been questioned why he chose to go into a sleeping teen girl’s bedroom, supposedly looking for a blanket, after a night out drinking.
The man is defending 25 charges before a High Court jury. The charges relate to nine women who allege rape, sexual assault and drug-related offending.
The defendant has interim name suppression until at least the end of the trial and many details can’t be reported for legal reasons.
The jury had earlier in the trial heard evidence from the teen girl who is the complainant for one charge – that the man allegedly indecently assaulted her in her bedroom.
For the past six days, the defendant has been in the dock. Today was his third day of cross-examination by Crown solicitor Anna Pollett.
Pollett asked him about evidence the jury earlier heard relating to the teen that the defendant had been out drinking, came home late and was “crashing” on the couch for the night at the home where she lived.
It was the teen’s evidence the defendant went into her bedroom, woke her by shaking her leg and said he wanted to get into her bed.
Pollett put to the defendant: “Having had a skinful, you chose the only female in the house to go to her room.”
The defendant said “no”.
Pollett said the teen felt uncomfortable with the defendant entering her bedroom and said he was “acting disorientated”.
“It is no coincidence that you persisted, saying you were going to sleep with her that night. It is not a case of a misunderstanding or [something being] lost in translation. You persisted until a [teen] girl had to escort you out of the room.”
But the defendant said he went into the bedroom looking for a blanket because he was cold, not realising it was the teen’s room.
Pollett questioned the defendant about his evidence when he said police were doing bail checks two to three times every night for three months, which he said amounted to about 90 times.
The defendant said that was correct.
Pollett produced police records that showed he was not on bail at the time he said he was being checked. She also showed when he was eventually given a police curfew (which meant he needed to stay at his address during certain hours) after more charges were laid, police didn’t do their first bail check until six days after the curfew was imposed.
Pollett said the police records showed he was checked 34 times during the following four months.
“You say it’s two to three times a night, but the records show it’s eight to nine times a month.”
The defendant said he didn’t agree with the police records and he had kept his own records which he said proved otherwise.
Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield KC interjected Pollett’s line of questioning several times today, saying he objected to the way she was making “statements” to the jury instead of asking questions.
“I’m really getting tired of this … This is not difficult and she’s experienced and she knows what she’s doing,” Mansfield said to Justice Layne Harvey.
Each time, Pollett did not object to his objections and changed the way she asked a question.
At one point, Pollett objected to Mansfield saying things to her while she spoke. “Excuse me, get to your feet if you want to say something.”
The trial is not sitting on Wednesday or Thursday. The Crown’s cross-examination had taken longer than originally expected, but was expected to finish on Friday when the trial resumes.
The defence was then expected to call witnesses on Friday and early next week before the Crown and defence wrap up their cases to the jury.
In total, the defendant has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges of indecent assault, four of sexual violation by rape, three of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, two of attempted sexual violation, two of burglary, one of assault with intent to commit sexual violation, one of supplying MDMA, one of supplying methamphetamine and one of willfully attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Kelly Makiha is a senior journalist who has reported for the Rotorua Daily Post for more than 25 years, covering mainly police, court, human interest and social issues.