A prominent man charged with indecently touching two girls has been acquitted, after a trial at the High Court in Whangarei.
The man was found not guilty on all 12 counts of indecency, in a unanimous decision delivered this afternoon.
This morning the jury of six men and five women told the judge they'd reached a stalemate after deliberating for less than four hours.
But shortly after 2pm they returned with the not-guilty verdicts.
The man's family and friends applauded the jury and embraced one another, while his son and elderly father wept with relief.
The man shook hands and hugged family members but had no comment for reporters.
His name has been suppressed throughout the seven-day trial, largely to protect the identities of the two complainants.
His defence lawyers filed a submission after the verdict to permanently suppress his identity.
Justice Venning has reserved his decision on whether to lift the suppression.
The names of the girls are suppressed by law.