Rape trial jury out to de­lib­er­ate

Taranaki Daily News - - News - DEENA COSTER

‘‘I tell you what, one thing I’m not is a rapist.’’

This was Cur­tis Tiepi Leatherby’s re­sponse when met with al­le­ga­tions by po­lice he had raped a woman on the morn­ing of Fe­bru­ary 20, 2016 at his Haw­era flat.

The 29-year-old has been on trial in the New Ply­mouth District Court since Tues­day af­ter plead­ing not guilty to the sex­ual as­sault.

The Crown say the com­plainant was sleep­ing alone in one of the bed­rooms at Leatherby’s house, af­ter an evening out so­cial­is­ing. The young woman had been drink­ing al­co­hol but was aware of what was hap­pen­ing around her.

While drink­ing in the lounge with two other men, Leatherby found out the vic­tim was asleep in the bed­room. It is al­leged he then went to the room with­out telling any­body, got on the bed be­hind the com­plainant and had non­con­sen­sual sex with her.

The Crown said when the woman woke up, it took her a few sec­onds to re­alise what was hap­pen­ing be­fore she pulled her­self away.

She then be­came hys­ter­i­cal, con­fronted the other men and left the house.

As part of the Crown’s case, a video of Leatherby’s po­lice in­ter­view, con­ducted on the day of the al­leged rape, was played to the jury. When De­tec­tive Sergeant Chris Alle­mann asked him what took place, Leatherby said he had con­sen­sual sex with the com­plainant.

‘‘I went into the room, gave her a cud­dle and then one thing led to an­other,’’ he said.

He said at the end of the 15 minute en­counter, the com­plainant pushed him away and he left the room.

Leatherby said the com­plainant came out of the bed­room about 10 min­utes later.

‘‘She was just hys­ter­i­cal and out of it,’’ he said.

In ear­lier ev­i­dence given on Wed­nes­day, Dr An­gela Law­son, who is foren­si­cally trained to work with sex as­sault vic­tims, ex­plained how she ex­am­ined the com­plainant about 12pm, three hours af­ter the al­leged rape took place.

Law­son de­scribed the woman as alert and able to co-op­er­ate with the exam but that she had been emo­tion­ally up­set.

An ex­am­i­na­tion of the woman’s gen­i­tal area found the area to be nor­mal, ex­cept for a su­per­fi­cial abra­sion, mea­sur­ing less than one cen­time­tre in di­am­e­ter, at the base of the hy­men.

How­ever, Law­son said it was not pos­si­ble to ‘‘age’’ an abra­sion or tell if it was caused by con­sen­sual sex or rape.

No ev­i­dence was of­fered in Leatherby’s de­fence.

Pros­e­cu­tor Justin Mari­novich said the com­plainant had the right to feel safe and pro­tected at the house.

‘‘She wasn’t there for Mr Leatherby’s use or his sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion,’’ he said.

Mari­novich also pointed to the ac­cused’s ‘‘sneaky’’ be­hav­iour be­fore the al­leged of­fend­ing in that he didn’t tell any­one he was go­ing to the bed­room nor did he say any­thing to the com­plainant when he got onto the bed.

‘‘The only rea­son he went into that room was for his own sex­ual in­ter­est,’’ he said.

De­fence lawyer Su­san Hughes QC said the sex had been con­sen­sual be­tween Leatherby and the com­plainant.

She said the com­plainant may have not been fully awake at the time, but she had been re­spond­ing to Leatherby’s sex­ual ad­vances by press­ing her body against him.

She said no force had been used and when the com­plainant made it clear she wanted him to stop Leatherby did.

Judge Philippa Cun­ning­ham summed up the case on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon be­fore the jury of four men and seven women re­tired for the day. One of the ju­rors was dis­charged ear­lier in the trial. The jury will be­gin its de­lib­er­a­tions on Thurs­day.

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