False rape claim: Teen serves 10 years
Lawyer ignored confession, says accuser’s carer
A teenage boy wrongly accused of rape spent nearly 10 years in prison even though the so-called victim confessed to making up the sex allegations shortly after the trial.
The 17-year-old, Patrick*, was labelled a “dangerous sexual predator” by the judge who sentenced him to 4½ years in prison in 2005.
He was found guilty of multiple sexual assaults against another teenage boy, despite his adamant denials, in a trial where the jury also heard Patrick — a victim of sexual abuse himself — admitted indecently touching a young girl.
Less than a year later, the teenage complainant, Mark*, admitted to his Child Youth and Family caregivers he “made it all up”.
The caregiver, Patricia Thrupp, quickly alerted Patrick’s lawyer Brandt Shortland.
“I was very clear to Mr Shortland that [Mark] had said to me that [Patrick] never raped him and I said that I was really worried that [Patrick] had taken the rap for something he hadn’t done,” said Thrupp in her affidavit to the Court of Appeal.
“I remember Mr Shortland told me ‘I wouldn’t worry about it’ or words to that effect. He said [Patrick] had nearly finished his sentence and that he’s ‘a very sick boy’. After the conversation ended, I left it at that. I believed my involvement was at an end.” No action was taken and Patrick was repeatedly denied parole, ostensibly because he continued to protest his innocence of sexually assaulting Mark.
He served every day of his 4½-year sentence and, on his release from prison in 2008, was subject to strict conditions under an Extended Supervision Order.
Such orders allow Corrections to monitor high-risk offenders for up to 10 years, and recall them to prison.
The Parole Board described his compliance as “extremely poor” — 13 breaches by October 2013 — and tightened his conditions to include GPS monitoring.
“He again painted himself as the victim and tried to talk down the questioning board member to the point when we had no option but to adjourn the hearing,” the Parole Board report says.
None of the breaches were sexual and most were technical in nature, such as refusing to attend a group therapy session.
By the time the confession came to light in 2015 — nearly 10 years after Mark recanted to his caregivers — Patrick was still in prison. He spent nearly as much time behind bars for ESO breaches as for the original rape sentence.
And the evidence which eventually cleared Patrick emerged only because Mark made a compensation claim against the Ministry of Social Development for abuse he suffered while in state care.
The MSD investigation interviewed Patricia Thrupp and her partner Don McNaughton and their affidavits were given to Phil Hamlin, the barrister acting on behalf of Patrick.
Each described in detail the same conversation with Mark who recanted his allegations against Patrick.
Hamlin took the case to the Court of Appeal where the three senior judges described the couple as credible witnesses of “complete integrity and forthrightness”.
Shortland, who is now the Coroner in Whanga¯rei , also gave an affidavit to the appeal.
“I have no recollection of that alleged phone call with Ms Thrupp and a patchy memory, at best, on other details,” said Shortland.
“I could not remember many of the details about the case including the allegation made in Ms Thrupp’s affidavit, which I consider very serious.”
In his affidavit, Mark said he could not remember recanting the allegations.
However, the Court of Appeal was satisfied a miscarriage of justice had occurred.
Patrick’s convictions would have been quashed solely on the grounds the jury should not have heard two sets of complaints — the young girl and Mark — together in the same trial.
The Court of Appeal said there was another “compelling” reason to overturn the case.
The judges accepted Mark recanted the allegations to his caregivers, Thrupp and McNaughton, and said there was no doubt the confession was genuine.
“Mr McNaughton and Ms Thrupp were well aware of the dynamics between [Mark and Patrick], and well aware also that both were troubled young men. Yet both considered [Mark] had genuinely recanted his allegations.” The Court of Appeal also accepted Thrupp did call Shortland about Mark’s recantation of the rape allegations.
“The fact that Mr Shortland took no steps in response is, to say the least, disappointing and most unfortunate.”
Shortland, who is also the Deputy Chief Coroner, declined to comment.
Patrick, who will turn 31 next month, is now free of the ESO conditions. He is considering lodging a claim for compensation for wrongful conviction.
Ironically, Patrick is also likely to claim for compensation for physical and sexual abuse he suffered while in state care.
“I don’t really care about the money. I just want someone to believe me. Then I can move on.”
* Patrick and Mark are not their real names which are suppressed.