11 Feb 2019

Police officer accused of sexually assaulting two women

7:46 pm on 11 February 2019

A jury has heard accusations a Northland police officer abused two women's trust and sexually assaulted them while investigating crimes they had reported.

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Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Detective inspector Kevin Burke, who was mostly based in Orewa, has appeared before a jury and Justice Sarah Katz in the High Court in Auckland today.

He has pleaded not guilty to two charges of indecently assaulting a woman over 16 and two of unlawful sexual connection.

The names of the two complainants are suppressed.

In her opening statement, on behalf of the Crown, Jo Murdoch told the court Mr Burke assaulted the two women, who are unknown to one another and from vastly different backgrounds.

"The two complainants come from very different worlds and led very different lives, yet the Crown says they have one thing in common, Kevin Burke sexually assaulted them after they had put their trust and confidence in him as a police officer," Ms Murdoch said.

She said the first complainant, 46, met Mr Burke in 2002, after she approached him with reported concerns about a man's fraudulent behaviour.

She said Mr Burke, who was 44 years old at the time, began investigating. Roughly two weeks later, he turned up to the first complainants house unannounced with beer and wine.

She lived alone and did not drink.

"She did not expect that Kevin Burke, a police officer she had met once, would turn up at her home - there was no arrangement for him to do so," Ms Murdoch said.

She said the defendant proceeded to get drunk on the complainants deck, so she gave him some pasta and made up a bed for him in the spare room to stop him from driving intoxicated.

She said it was when the woman was pointing out the room to Mr Burke, that he grabbed her, and pulled her on top of him onto the bed and she struggled to free herself.

"He started to kiss her all over her face and neck and he then ended up on top of her, physically overpowering her and bringing her to the floor."

She alleges Mr Burke held her arms above her head with one hand and pulled down her leggings before sexually assaulting her, Ms Murdoch said.

The complainant had "not been prepared for such an aggressive sexual act".

She had been trusting of the defendant, and up till the point where Mr Burke sexually attacked her, she had found him very professional, Ms Murdoch said.

In July, 2002, Mr Burke met the second complainant, 26, who was a victim of violent attack at the hands of her then partner - a patched gang member, with a long history of criminal activity alongside his brother.

Mr Burke was the officer in charge of investigating the case, and already had gathered a lot of information about the brothers through his policing work.

The second complainant, Ms Murdoch said, had felt like Mr Burke cared for her professionally, but her flatmates felt he was romantically interested.

The prosecutor said the defendant turned up to the woman's house unannounced several times over the next few months.

She said the first time, dressed in his work clothes, he brought paperwork, pizza and wine.

After drinking the wine, the second complainant felt affected by the alcohol and put herself to bed, while Mr Burke kept drinking with her older house mate.

She thought she heard the lights being switched off and Mr Burke leave through the ranch slider.

But instead, Ms Murdoch said Mr Burke entered her room, undressed himself and rubbed his body up and down her back until he was "shivering and shaking".

Ms Murdoch told the court that on another occasion, Mr Burke pinned the woman to the wall in the hallway and rubbed his body up against hers.

And she said on a third occasion, he exposed his penis to her and held her down, while he performed oral sex on her.

Acting for the defendant, Arthur Fairley, told the jury that there are two competing narratives.

"The defendant's narrative is completely different," he said.

"The picture painted by the Crown, is that the policeman, Mr Burke and the complainant met on the 8th and then on the 17th and he turns up uninvited, and sexually assaults her."

"In fact phone contact was made before the 8th, and before he turns up on the 17th, there is phone contact, coffee, perhaps a dinner and then he stays the night and there was consensual sexual activity," Mr Fairley said.

Mr Fairley said in the second case, Mr Burke had contact with the complainant, but there was no sexual activity and meetings were only in the context of police work.

Mr Burke has been stood down from his role until the outcome of the trial is determined.

The trial is set down for two weeks.