Former teacher accused of sex crimes against daughters

2:17 pm on 13 March 2017

An 80-year-old former teacher has gone on trial in Wellington accused of incest and multiple other sex crimes against three of his daughters through the 1970s and 1980s.

The charges include fondling his daughters' breasts and genitalia and inducing a girl under 12 to perform oral sex on him.

Wellington District Court.

Wellington District Court Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Crown prosecutor Erin FitzHerbert told the Wellington District Court the girls were aged between five and 16 when the alleged offending occurred.

She said, while his wife was out at work, the man took advantage of opportunities alone with his daughters to sexually assault them and have them touch him.

Ms FitzHerbert said the man had sex with a third daughter but she had an intellectual disability and could not give evidence herself; instead, one of her sisters would speak about what she saw happening.

The defendant has also been accused of trying to pervert the course of justice, by sending texts to his daughters in the hope they would withdraw their complaints.

Ms FitzHerbert said one of the texts accused the daughters of being "gutless and destroying any relationship they had with their parents".

On another occasion the man was said to have sent a text to his daughters, pretending to be a nurse looking after their mother.

"It implied the mother's health was suffering as a direct result of the criminal proceedings."

The Crown said it was an attempt to manipulate the complainants and stop them giving evidence against their father.

Defence lawyer Brett Crowley told the court his client denied all of the sexual offending and said it did not happen.

He said his client admitted sending the texts to his daughters but denied it was his intention to avoid going to trial.

Mr Crowley said it was crucial that jurors watch a video that would be presented to them, and other evidence, and assess the defendant and his daughters.

He said his client was arrested for the first time in his life at the age of 79 and could be seen in a video interview talking about being in pain and uncomfortable and also being worried about his wife and intellectually disabled daughter.

"It might be fair for the police officer to say, 'We've talked to your daughter, she's told us you did this. What do you say about that?' [Instead] he's asked 'tell me about when you put your hand on [your daughter's] vagina' so that is presented as a fact that happened and he has to just confirm that. [You must ] think about if that's a fair way to go on with it."

Mr Crowley urged the jurors not to take the allegations against his client at face value.

Sixteen witnesses will give evidence at the trial, which is being heard before Judge Stephen Harrop and a jury of six women and six men.

The case is expected to run into next week.