A court has heard claims a 26-year-old Wellington man raped two women while they slept or were affected by alcohol.
At the Wellington District Court on Wednesday morning, the defendant – who has name suppression – pleaded not guilty to two charges of sexual violation by rape.
The case is a retrial, and began with opening statements by counsel and evidence from the first complainant.
At the previous trial in October 2022, the jury was unable to reach a decision on four charges of rape. But it found him not guilty on four other charges – two of unlawful sexual connection and two of indecent assault.
The two charges in the retrial deal with matters alleged to have happened in Wellington City in 2019 and 2020.
Judge Peter Hobbs advised the jury that the fact the case was a retrial was irrelevant.
In opening statements, Crown prosecutor Nicole Jamieson told the jury the defendant took advantage of the complainants when they were asleep or intoxicated.
“By initiating and continuing sexual activity with them when they were not in a position [to] consent and he was well aware of that”.”
She argued neither complainant was able to consent.
“While the Crown has to prove each charge, I anticipate the real issue in this trial is going to be the issue of consent in relation to both charges.”
Defence lawyer Val Nisbet said the defendant did not deny there was sexual activity between him and the complainants – “two good friends” – but her key message to the jury was to “keep an open mind”.
The trial continued, with evidence given by the first complainant in a courtroom closed to the public.
It was set down to continue throughout the week and likely into the next.
The defendant, both complainants, and all witnesses have name suppression.
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/502504/rape-accused-says-alleged-victims-were-two-good-friends Rape-accused says alleged victims were ‘two good friends’