12 Mar 2020

Police rape trial: Sergeant gives evidence

5:53 pm on 12 March 2020

The jury in the trial of a police officer accused of raping his colleague has now heard a third version of what happened that night.

Close up of a police officer at an incident on a residential street. 6 July 2016.

(file photo) Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

A 29-year-old police officer is on trial in the Auckland District Court this month accused of groping a female officer and later raping her while she slept.

The complainant has told the jury she was sleeping in a Kerikeri motel last February when she woke up to the man raping her.

It's the defence's case the woman was awake at the time and a willing participant in what was a prearranged hook up.

Today a senior officer, who cannot be identified, told the jury the accused woke him up that night in a panic to tell him the woman was upset.

"He looked a little bit het up, a little bit panicked. He ran his fingers through his hair and said 'boss I was speaking to [the woman] earlier in the night and she told me once everyone's gone to bed to go over to her unit to see her'.

"He then went on to say that he went over to her unit, knocked on the door and there was no reply from inside so he opened the door, went inside, sat on the bed and shook [the woman] to wake her up."

The witness said the accused told him the woman woke up and said "this is wrong, we can't do this", a comment that made the sergeant worry and ask the accused if anything else had happened.

"I changed my tone ... in a manner that this is really important. [The accused] looked at me, got his hands out in front, palms up, and went 'no. No no no, nothing like that'."

The witness said it was clear to both men they were talking about sexual activity and the man's answer subsided his alarm.

"[The man] then went on to say 'I panicked and I tried to talk to her but she was upset with me' and he said he remained in the room for about 10 minutes before leaving the room."

The witness's evidence is the third version of events the jury has heard; the first being the complainant being raped in her sleep and the second being the defence's case that any sexual activity was consensual.

Yesterday, a male constable first on the scene told the jury he found the woman crying hysterically in her bed.

The man, who was sharing a unit with the defendant, first told police the woman said she'd woken up to the man on top of her, later saying she told him she'd woken up to the man raping her.

Today the court heard the officer's story changed after he was given notice any statement he gave could be used in an employment investigation into his behaviour that night.

Under cross-examination, the constable said he had "no doubt" the second version was what he heard the woman say.

He denied feeling pressure from senior officers managing the case or being worried about his job giving evidence against his colleague.

The constable expressed shock at what he heard was corroborated by their sergeant today - who said the constable was subdued when he returned from the woman's room.

"Usually I would expect [the constable] and [the accused] to have some sort of interaction like 'hey bro it's all okay don't worry' or something like that but there was none of that.

"There was no conversation between the two of them and very limited eye contact as well."

The sergeant said he was told he needed to go and see the woman himself and found her under a sheet, her legs pulled up to her chest, sobbing and crying.

The jury have heard a recording of a conversation they had in which the sergeant asks the woman what she wants to do.

"I wanted the words to come out of her that she wanted to go forward and do something about it. Clearly if she'd said she didn't want to do anything about it it wouldn't have been the end of the process ... but she was very clear with what she wanted to do," he told the jury today.

The complainant was medically examined by Dr Victoria Parlour the following morning.

Dr Parlour told the jury she found no internal injuries, but that did not surprise her as they were uncommon.

She said the presence of an injury did not mean sexual activity was not consensual - just as the absense of injury did not mean a sexual assault had not occurred.

The trial before Judge Thomas and a jury of six women and six men was set down for two weeks but may run longer.