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NZ: Guilty verdict after rape retrial (Taranaki)

Publish Date: 04 Nov 2011
Source: Taranaki Daily News
By: Lyn Humphries

A Hawera man has been found guilty of raping a very drunk 18-year-old woman in a churchyard after a retrial ordered by the Court of Appeal.

In the first trial, in the New Plymouth District Court in September last year, Judge Allan Roberts discharged Bevan Wharerangi Pakau, 30, after the complainant gave evidence.

In March this year the Crown won its appeal against the judge's decision, allowing a second trial to proceed.

The Court of Appeal's decision was suppressed until yesterday's decision by the second jury.

After four hours' deliberation, the jury of eight women and four men returned a unanimous guilty verdict.

Pakau denied the charge of sexual violation by rape of the young woman on November 24, 2009. He told police the two had consensual sexual intercourse and that he was always being approached for sex and that it is "what the bitches do" every time he went out.

The Crown case was that the 18-year-old victim had been in the Hawera CBD with her sister about 9pm and was heavily intoxicated.

The two became separated and soon after, the victim said, she was grabbed from behind and blacked out. She awoke in the grounds of St Joseph's Church in Little Regent St and discovered she was naked from the waist down with her tights and underpants nowhere to be seen. The boob-tube she was wearing was around her waist, leaving her breasts exposed.

She ran home in a distressed state and contacted police.

The Crown said the DNA testing of sperm taken from her body matched with Pakau's.

In its decision, the Court of Appeal said it considered the judge was wrong to discharge Pakau last year. "We add that we do not even consider this is a marginal case.

"There was strong circumstantial evidence of non-consensual sexual intercourse. A jury would be clearly entitled to find Mr Pakau guilty."

Points made to the Court of Appeal by defence counsel Susan Hughes, QC, on behalf of Pakau were for the jury to consider "and the judge should not have usurped the jury's role", the Court of Appeal said.

Yesterday, after the jury was dismissed, Judge Roberts convicted Pakau and called for a pre-sentence report.

Pakau was remanded in custody for sentencing on December 16.

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited