6 Mar 2019

High profile NZer's lawyer says allegations are a lie

7:06 pm on 6 March 2019

The lawyer representing a prominent New Zealander on trial for sexual assault has accused a complainant of lying.


Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The businessman, who has name suppression, is on trial in the Auckland District Court after pleading not guilty to two charges each of indecent assault and attempting to dissuade a witness.

It's alleged he groped one man in 2008 and another in 2016, and then got his associates to try to bribe the second man when he went to police.

Two other men, who also have name suppression, have pleaded not guilty to one and three charges of attempting to dissuade a witness respectively.

Yesterday the first complainant told the court the accused squeezed his bottom, kissed his neck and made sexual remarks during a business meeting at the man's home in February 2008.

It's an allegation the prominent businessman says is entirely fabricated.

Under cross-examination his lawyer David Jones QC put to the complainant that he had invented details to make his story sound better.

He queried why a peculiar detail of his account, which can't be published, had only just emerged now; more than 11 years after the fact.

"That is something that would stick in the brain if it had been said, isn't it?" Mr Jones asked.

"I would think so," the complainant said.

Mr Jones accused the man of being drunk and making a fool of himself at the meeting.

"Everyone who has alcohol is affected by it in some way but I wouldn't describe my behaviour, when I've had three and a half drinks and two dinners, as erratic," the man said.

The court had previously heard the complainant was dizzy after the meeting and felt he started to lose control of his limbs.

The man's partner told the court he was puzzled when he arrived home looking "disassociated and removed from himself".

He said he was very worried about the complainant when he vomited but admitted under cross-examination he did not feel he needed to take him to a doctor.

"I was very concerned but I think I was quite shocked initially at the state of him, so it may have clouded my judgement but I guess I didn't feel he was in immediate danger of anything that warranted going to a late night doctor or the hospital."

The complainant said he was in "such a bad state" that night he could not tell his partner the full story, but eventually did.

The man's partner said he told him he should go to the police but he did not.

"I think I was usually the main advocate to say you really should go to the police and get this on the record. I think probably to a degree he maybe subconsciously blocked that happening a little bit."

But Mr Jones said the complainant had invented the story; rather than blocked it.

He put to the complainant that he had gotten drunk and made a fool of himself, blowing the business deal, and was now fabricating a story to explain the failure.

"If you think for any reason that I could be doing this or making up some kind of story because I didn't get $5000 then I would tell you that that's preposterous," the complainant said.

Crown prosecutor Simon Foote asked the man if the failure to close the deal had adversely affected his career, to which he said no.

He then asked him if he harboured resentment against the accused.

"I harbour resentment against [the businessman] but it has nothing to do with the fact that he didn't fund me. It's due to the fact that he assaulted me."

The businessman told police the allegations were "completely untrue" in a letter when they first contacted him about the accusations.

Judge Russell Collins refused the businessman's application for name suppression on Tuesday but his identity remains a secret on appeal.