A man has been found guilty of eight serious physical and sexual violence charges after a trial in the High Court at Auckland this week.
The man – who has name suppression – had denied the charges: two of sexual violation, three of assault, two of assault with a weapon and one of threatening to kill.
This week Crown prosecutor Fiona Culliney told the court the complainant was continuously manipulated and abused by the defendant during their short relationship.
The prosecutor said the strength of the Crown case was underpinned by the woman’s detailed claims and by a letter she wrote in 2017.
Culliney said the victim made a police complaint when the relationship ended in April that year.
Defence lawyer Belinda Sellars QC earlier told the court it was clear her client had treated the complainant badly and she was “essentially his meal ticket”.
“He took her money, he was unfaithful and he repeatedly made promises that he did not keep,” Sellars said.
The woman had very good reasons to be extremely upset and angry at him, the defence lawyer said.
But although it was clear the relationship was abusive financially and emotionally, he was not physically or sexually violent, she said.
Sellars said the woman’s evidence lacked credibility and reliability, pointing to changes to between her initial statements and her filmed interview.
Justice Timothy Brewer said he agreed with the Crown that the defendant had controlled and manipulated the complainant throughout their relationship.
She thought he was her “dream partner” and he exploited that for his own purposes; particularly for her financial support, Justice Brewer said.
His “tools of control” included explosive anger, alternately giving and withholding affection, and lies, he said.
The judge also said the detail the complainant gave reliving the traumatic night of January 19, 2017, was convincing.
He found the letter she wrote that night corroborated her account and he did not accept it was a later fabrication.
Justice Brewer also said he found it was “significant” the woman had applied for a protection order at the end of their relationship.
She had spent $3000 on court orders at a time when she was upset about the depletion of her savings, he said.
In a filmed police interview, the complainant said she had met the defendant when she was vulnerable, describing herself as a person who liked to “help wounded birds, as it were”.
“I should have seen it but at the same time I just wanted to be loved and I wanted what all my friends had which was, you know, the family and the kids and the man that loves them.”
The complainant told police that the man wasted no time and within weeks was asking for money.
“I should have known.”
However, they moved in together quickly when they both needed to find a place to stay.
The court heard there were early arguments over money.
She told police she felt she was walking on eggshells in a volatile relationship that was eating away at her spirit, making her feel worthless.
There were times he would lock her out on a small balcony, she said.
She told police that on January 19, 2017, she had come home and found the defendant asleep on the couch.
She sat quietly nearby on the edge of the couch. She said he was groggy and his eyes struggled to focus on her.
“‘You are going to die today’,” she recalled his words after he woke.
He chased her around the house with a knife, she said, as she tried to keep him at arm’s length.
Next thing she knew they were on the floor and he was on top of her, she said.
“He said ‘It’s time to go to sleep’,” she said.
“I have never been so scared in my life. I managed to wriggle away.
“I haven’t told a soul what he did next.”
He threatened to kill her and her family, she said, forcing her into sexual acts.
She has told the court she wrote a signed letter that night recounting what happened in case she died.
The next morning she said he told her they were not discussing it and “it didn’t happen”.
“A piece of me died that night and I lost my fighting spirit.”
She described herself as being numb to the abuse from then onwards and said when she found evidence on his phone of his infidelity it gave her a push to leave.
Domestic violence – do you need help?
If you’re in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don’t stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay
Where to go for help or more information:
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day – 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Women’s Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 – 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It’s Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
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