21 Oct 2015

Teacher gave boy 'special treatment', court hears

5:53 pm on 21 October 2015

A witness in a female teacher's sexual abuse trial has told the High Court in Wellington that she noticed the teacher seemed to give a boy special treatment.

The teacher, whose name is suppressed, is in the High Court in Wellington on a range of charges including indecent assault, sexual violation and unlawful sexual connection.

The Crown said the woman began an intimate relationship with the complainant, which included one occasion of sexual intercourse.

Frequent text messages and pictures were also exchanged between the woman and the boy, who was aged between 10 and 13 at the time.

On Wednesday morning, a colleague of the accused woman told the court she noticed the defendant and the boy seemed to be spending a lot of time together.

She said she noticed the defendant gave him little jobs to do and that became a regular thing.

The witness said she received a phone call from the boy's mother on Waitangi Day 2014, asking if the school had held a sleepover the previous night for those involved in sports training.

The boy's mother told the witness he hadn't come home the night before and she understood he had stayed at a friend's house.

The witness said she asked the boy's friend whether that was true and then went to speak to the boy herself.

She said he told her he had stayed at a friend's house, but she knew that wasn't true.

The woman said she told the boy someone had seen him in Paraparaumu and he then told her he had stayed at a motel there with the defendant.

She also told the court she took the boy's cellphone and saw text messages on it, which he said were from the accused woman.

The witness said she became concerned about the boy's behaviour after that, as he was being very sneaky and it seemed he wasn't telling the truth when asked about what he had been doing.

She said he was loitering around and seemed to all of a sudden have money and was going to the shops and hanging out at the mall.

The woman said she later went to the police and took the boy's phone. She said she didn't know why she hadn't done something about it sooner, when she had spoken to him about staying at the motel.

During the woman's evidence, the defendant was quietly crying in the dock, frequently dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief.

Evidence given around phones' photos

Police officers also gave evidence on Wednesday morning of their involvement in the arrest and interviewing of the defendant.

Detective Sergeant Meline Warren said she was there when a search warrant was executed at the woman's house.

She said some Armed Offenders Squad members attended, but that was simply as a safety precaution and had nothing to do with the defendant personally.

Detective Sergeant Warren said those officers weren't dressed in black uniforms and balaclavas.

She said they wore protective vests and carried Tasers, but no weapons were drawn during the search.

Detective Warren said the District Child Protection Team was always extremely busy and, as in this case, it was not unusual for the file to be looked after by several officers.

Ian Donovan, a police electronics expert, explained his investigations on phones connected to the case to the jury.

He said a detective identified five relevant photos but they were only thumbnails.

Mr Donovan said if the pictures had been saved on the phone and then deleted, the thumbnails would still exist.

The Crown has now closed its case in the trial.