Rape trial jury out to deliberate
‘‘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.