Kidnapping accused 'highly regarded in community'

5:27 pm on 20 November 2017

A friend of a police officer accused of kidnapping a teenager has told a court the accused is a kind, patient man who would never raise his voice to anyone.

Hurimoana Dennis pleaded not guilty to two charges of kidnap.

Hurimoana Dennis Photo: RNZ / Edward Gay

The young man, aged 17 at the time, has said two senior police officers threatened to arrest him on charges of statutory rape if he did not agree to forget about his girlfriend and move to Australia to start a new life.

Inspector Hurimoana Dennis and his colleague Sergeant Vaughn Perry have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping charges in the High Court in Auckland.

A defence witness, Jennifer Nuku, knows Mr Dennis through their marae, Te Puea, and said he was highly regarded in the community.

She said he was a leading force in the marae opening its doors to homeless people last year.

"With the homeless programme we have very shy and embarrassed people right to boisterous and angry people. His mannerism with them, it was patient, polite, genuine and very helpful."

Mr Dennis's lawyer, Stephen Bonnar, opened the defence this morning saying the teenager knew he was not being contained but was simply visiting the police station when he was taken there by police officers later charged with kidnapping.

Mr Bonnar told the jury the case was not a love story, but about a young man who was committing a crime and how Mr Dennis was trying to help him.

The teenager has previously told the court that Mr Dennis took him to the police cells and locked him in.

Mr Bonnar said his client disputed that claim.

"He knew it was a visit, he knew because Mr Dennis told him.

"He knew it was a visit as part of a choices and consequences conversation - to show him where he could end up if he continued committing crime.

"It comes down to consent and whether or not the teenager consented to being there."

Mr Bonnar told the jury consent did not have to be verbal.

"At no stage did the teenager show signs of not consenting to be there. We have heard this from other officers that were in the cells that day.

"At no stage did he tell Mr Dennis that he did not want to be there.

"It's not about if he decided a week after the visit that he did not like it, it is about whether or not he consented to being there at the time."

Hurimoana Dennis will not be giving evidence in the trial and the Crown and defence will give their closing arguments tomorrow.

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