Supreme Court rejects prisoner’s bid to challenge conviction for sex attack on cellmate

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Raymond John Belsey has been fighting his conviction for sexually assaulting his cellmate. Photo / File

WARNING: This story details sexual violence offending and may be upsetting.

A prisoner who sexually assaulted his cellmate after a clash between the pair claims he was wrongly convicted and that his victim’s injuries were self-inflicted.

Raymond John Belsey recently turned to the Supreme Court in a bid to have his argument against his conviction heard.

But the court yesterday released its decision in which it dismissed the 28-year-old’s application.


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Belsey was watching television with a man he was sharing a cell with at the Otago Corrections Facility in July 2020.

When the cellmate took exception to sexualised comments Belsey made about a young girl on television, Belsey became angry and smashed the television.

He then sexually assaulted the man, penetrating his anus three times with a thumb, an earlier Court of Appeal decision detailed.

That Court of Appeal judgment was issued in October last year and dismissed Belsey’s application to challenge his conviction for sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.


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In November 2021, a jury found him guilty of that charge in the District Court and he was later sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment.

Belsey then applied to the Supreme Court for leave to challenge the Court of Appeal’s ruling.

The decision noted it had been filed four months out of time and was therefore also treated as an application for an extension of time to apply for leave, which the Crown opposed on the basis the proposed appeal had no merit.

Belsey’s submissions to the Supreme Court did not specify with clarity what the proposed grounds of his appeal were, the decision said.

But he made clear that he felt he was wrongly convicted and that the allegation made against him by the victim was untrue.

“He says the victim’s injuries were, in fact, self‑inflicted.

“He also says his trial was unfair and his counsel did not prosecute his appeal to the Court of Appeal properly.”

If leave was granted, Belsey wished to argue his trial counsel’s advice in relation to the giving of evidence at trial – he did not give evidence – and his appeal counsel did not listen to his instructions.

But the Supreme Court said there appeared to be no suggestion he was prevented from giving evidence at trial, nor was there any substance provided as to the alleged failings of his appeal counsel.

In response to Belsey’s claim that he was wrongly convicted, there was nothing before the court to indicate the jury verdict was unreasonable based on the evidence it heard at trial, and it was not argued in the Court of Appeal that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable.


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“Nor is there any appearance of a miscarriage of justice in the way the Court of Appeal addressed the argument for the applicant that the trial was unfair.”

However, the Supreme Court noted the Court of Appeal had accepted there were some errors made during the trial.

Those included a police officer reading a record of allegations made against Belsey by the victim.

But the appeal court considered that no miscarriage of justice arose from this.

The court rejected an argument that significant unfair prejudice occurred because the officer referred to Belsey becoming aggressive after an interview, and further issues raised by Belsey in relation to the trial judge’s summing up.

In dismissing his latest application, the Supreme Court found he had not raised any matters of public importance.


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“Nor do we see any risk of a miscarriage of justice if leave to appeal is not granted.

“That means the criteria for the grant of leave to appeal are not met. In those circumstances, there is no point in granting an extension of time to seek leave to appeal.”

Tara Shaskey joined NZME in 2022 as a news director and Open Justice reporter. She has been a reporter since 2014 and previously worked at Stuff where she covered crime and justice, arts and entertainment, and Māori issues.


Where to get help:

If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111. If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:


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• Call 0800 044 334

• Text 4334

• Email

• For more info or to web chat visit

Alternatively contact your local police station – click here for a list.

If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it’s not your fault.


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