8 Oct 2018

Man on trial for raping three women and a child

6:30 pm on 8 October 2018

A man used violence and made a woman perform a sex act in front of her children in a car, the Crown told the High Court in Auckland.

Entrance to the High Court in Auckland

Entrance to the High Court in Auckland Photo: justice.govt.nz

The man, who has name suppression, has denied 14 charges including rape, indecently assaulting a child and threatening to kill.

Most of the charges date back to the 1970s.

In his opening address, Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey told the jurors they would hear evidence from four women who would tell them they were raped by the same man, four decades ago.

The first was sitting in her boarding house room with her baby, asleep in a cot in the corner.

"One night she was minding her own business, doing her knitting in her own room, when there was a knock at the door."

The man introduced himself, and used his name.

"She was frightened and she hid under the bed. He broke through one of the door panels in her room, pushed his arm through, reached around, and unlocked the door."

The woman stayed hidden and the man eventually left. She went down to the communal kitchen and called the police.

Mr McCoubrey said the police showed up and assured her she was safe before leaving, but a short while later the man returned.

"He hit her a number of times around the face and then he walked her down, through a number of streets in Wellington, down to a hotel, down near Courtenay Place - for those of you who know Wellington - where he wanted to have dinner with her. And along the way she was told not to react, to behave herself, or she'd be dead meat."

The woman said she was raped repeatedly that night, which she described as horrific and the longest night in her life.

In her evidence, played to the court, she said she kept quiet through fear and could no longer look after her daughter. Her daughter was eventually adopted and later took her own life.

The woman said she only had the courage to come forward after support from her counsellor.

Mr McCoubrey said a second woman met the man after answering a personal advertisement in the newspaper.

"That's something of a little theme, perhaps, in this case. And of course in the days long before the internet, long before Tinder, long before anything like that, that was one common way in which people met one another."

Mr McCoubrey said the man invited her over with two other people but when the other two left, things turned nasty.

"He then twisted her arm up behind her back and punched her a number of times. He told her to go to the bedroom and take her clothes off."

The woman said she was raped and remembered being given a drink.

"He also forced her to drink a drink that tasted of lime, which appeared to her to have the immediate effect of making it feel like she was floating and not in control of herself."

The following morning, as she was leaving, she said the man asked her if she would like to come back. She went to the police but the paperwork was lost.

"For whatever reason though, as I say, there is no paperwork in relation to that 1976 complaint. It may be that attitudes in New Zealand, and in fact the whole world, have changed wildly from the mid-1970s. Until today and it may be that a complaint made to the police would be treated very differently in 2018."

The other two complainants were a mother and daughter who the man moved in with.

Mr McCoubrey said he frequently threatened the mother with violence, making her perform a sex act in front of her children in a car, on one occasion.

The abuse happened over four weeks. The man is alleged to have raped the mother repeatedly and also sexually abused one of her daughters.

"She was scared to try and get rid of him but eventually she did summon up the courage and ask him to leave."

Mr McCoubrey said, aside from the mother and daughter, the complainants lived in different parts of the country and didn't know each other.

"Right at the outset, I'd just ask you to bare this in mind, just because something happened a long time ago, doesn't mean it didn't happen."

One of the man's lawyers, Linda Drummond, said her client denied all the allegations.

"Now, my friend from the Crown said that just because something happened 46 years ago does not mean that it didn't happen. And the same goes the other way - just because...someone says something happened 46 years ago does not mean that it in fact did."