18 Oct 2018

Taimo trial: Jury retires to deliberate

3:48 pm on 18 October 2018

The jury in the trial of a rugby coach accused of sexually abusing boys has retired to deliberate its verdicts.

Alosio Taimo on trial in the Auckland High Court.

Alosio Taimo on trial in the Auckland High Court. Photo: RNZ / Edward Gay

Alosio Taimo is on trial in the High Court at Auckland, where he faces 106 charges of sexual offending against 18 boys over a nearly 30-year period.

The Crown's case is that Mr Taimo gave the boys sporting gear and video games before sexual abusing them.

The rugby coach was a senior member in his community and trusted by families to look after their boys - a trust the Crown said was abused by Mr Taimo for his own pleasure.

Mr Taimo's defence has been that the complainants' allegations are entirely made up, and that they were treated like family.

The 55-year-old was originally charged with offending against one boy in August 2016.

The boy's aunty had overheard him telling his cousins that Mr Taimo was gay and that he knew this because Mr Taimo had touched him.

The aunty went to police who investigated and identified more complainants.

More complainants also came forward after Mr Taimo's name suppression was lifted and his identity was published throughout the media.

The trial began with 83 charges, but that increased to 106 when complainants gave further evidence of specific incidents.

In his summing up, Justice Moore acknowledged the jurors' attention and patience throughout the nine weeks of evidence.

"Customarily, Judges leave it until after verdicts have been delivered before thanking jurors for their services..but I do think it's appropriate to record at this stage how obvious it has been to all of us in this courtroom over the last two-and-a-half months that you've taken your task very seriously and very conscientiously, as of course you must."

He said it had been a long and complex case with detailed evidence but one thing that was straightforward was Mr Taimo's defence.

"His defence is simple. It is a total denial. He says that each of the complainants has lied about what happened to them. His defence is is that there is no room for mistake. This is not a question of the complainants being mistaken.

"The issue here is whether each of the complainants told the truth in respect of the essential elements which make up each of the charges."

As well as hearing evidence given by complainants, the jury were shown a photograph of a boy sitting topless on Mr Taimo's bed, stored in his cellphone called 'family and forever'.

Justice Moore said Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes used this photo to support his case that Mr Taimo had a sexual interest in Polynesian boys.

"Mr Rhodes submitted to you that the photograph and the surrounding circumstances radiate an aurora of intimacy Mr Taimo flatly rejects such a suggestion.

"He told you the circumstances around the taking of the photograph were unremarkable and certainly not sinister; he was just trying out his new cellphone."

The jury were also told about, but not shown, an explicit close-up photo of a young teenager performing a sex act on a man on Mr Taimo's cellphone.

The face of the male can't be seen.

The Crown told the jury they could infer it was Mr Taimo - based on the fact the photo was on his phone, and that fabric seen in it was similar to distinctive bedding seen in police photographs of his home.

Mr Taimo told the jury he wasn't the male in the photo.

Justice Moore told the jury it was expected they would need to deliberate for some time, considering the number of charges total more than one hundred.