Defence lawyer urges jury to keep open mind in rape case

7:54 pm on 21 August 2018

The Crown and Defence have given their opening statements for the trial of five men over the abduction and rape of a young woman in Kapiti.

Shay Holland, Teri Thompson, Lewis Craig, Jeffrey Troon and Jordan Whitinui appeared at the High Court in Wellington today.

They face a combined 65 charges, which includes sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, abduction with the intent to have sexual connection, and rape.

Each of the accused are charged with at least a dozen charges, either as the person who committed the act or as someone who was a party to the offending.

Crown prosecutor Sally Carter told the court in her opening statement that the complainant was taken by car to a defendant's house, in Paraparaumu in October 2016.

"They then took her into a bedroom at that house, and in that bedroom she was forced to participate in various sexual acts," she said.

"Once they'd finished doing that you'll hear that the complainant was taken from the address by them in a car and left on the side of the road."

The defence deny all the charges, saying the complainant was not held against her will and any sexual acts were consensual.

The lawyers for the five accused men are urging the jury to keep an open mind.

Lawyer Shane Robinson, who represents Mr Holland, told the jury to remember it was not a court of morality.

"You may hear things that you disapprove of, you may no doubt have already heard things where a red flag goes up in your mind. Please remember this is a court of law," he said.

Representing Mr Thompson, Liz Hall told the jury for so long women had been discounted and ignored, but the pendulum had now swung.

"So even when there are obvious hallmarks that caution needs to be exercised before acting on her account, even when there are bald faced impossibilities in what she says, the process kicks in, the police arrest and the 12 of you are asked to decide the case," Ms Hall said.

Evidence from witnesses, including the complainant is scheduled to take place from tomorrow.

The trial is expected to take about a fortnight.