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Monday, October 2, 2023

Leading entertainment personality trial: Woman says she woke up to find him in bed


A leading figure in New Zealand’s entertainment industry is on trial in the Rotorua High Court.Photo/Andrew Warner

A woman who says a showbiz mogul broke into her home twice in one night and tried to rape her didn’t file a complaint with police because the man said he had gang connections and she knew he was rich and powerful.

Video footage of the woman being interviewed by police was played to a jury in the Rotorua High Court on Friday. In court today her evidence was challenged.

The man, who will remain anonymous at least temporarily until the conclusion of the trial, faces 25 rape, sexual assault and drug-related charges related to nine accusers.

Prosecutors allege the defendant administered illegal drugs to some of the women before committing the crime and used his status in the entertainment industry to get the sex he wanted.

The defense said that while the married defendants admitted to using drugs and having sex with other women, that was the nature of the industry. He’s popular, doesn’t need to supply women with drugs and alcohol for sex, and this case is a “MeToo spree.”

Some details and the names of other people involved could not be reported due to a restraining order.

The woman who gave evidence this week is the last royal plaintiff in the trial, which has entered its eighth week. The accused was charged with four offenses in relation to the woman, including two counts of burglary, one count of assault with intent to commit sexual assault and one count of attempted sexual assault against the woman.

She said in video evidence she woke up to find the man lying on top of her and she told him to “fuck off, you weirdo”. For a while, she said, she struggled with him trying to pull up the blanket and grew increasingly concerned about what he was going to do.

She said she decided to give him his “full attention” to pet her for now, while she quickly sent three distressing text messages to friends and her sister, which read: “Help me, [he’s] at my house. He was going to rape me.”

Not long after, one of the friends called. The woman answered the phone and quickly said: “He is going to rape me, come on”.

She said the defendant snatched the woman’s mobile phone and started an argument with the woman’s friend, who ordered him to leave, saying: “You need to leave that house now, here we come. We’re on our way. We’re going Fuck you.”

But she said the defendant told the woman’s friend on the phone: “I have gang affiliations … I’m going to kill you all”.

Her friend then pretended they had gang members and was on their way, she said. The accused dressed and left angrily.

Earlier in the evening, the woman said she allowed the accused to walk home from an event they had attended after he was “annoying” and insisted she could not walk alone.

She needed to leave the event because she thought it was around 11pm and she had to catch up with the babysitter and she didn’t want to be late.

During the event, she said, the accused had been “dirty” and apparently wanted to “hook up” with her.

After taking her home, she told him he couldn’t go in, closed the door and went in. However, the defendant was found in her hallway shortly after pulling out the key for her sister.

She said “what the fuck are you doing in my house”. The defendant claimed he needed to go to the bathroom.

After telling him where to go, he pushed himself on top of her, forced her to get dressed, put his thumb in her panties and violently forced her to remove them, she said.

She told him to get out and threatened to call the police, and he called her a “b***h” and a “whore”.

The woman said the accused must have taken the key with him and returned a few hours later around 4 a.m. and got into her bed.

The woman said she did not call the police because she knew he was rich and powerful and had mentioned his gang connections.

“Back then… I wasn’t making enough money to hire a lawyer to fight him. I didn’t realize he had done that to other people,” she said in video evidence.

The woman told jurors today she later moved out of the house because she did not feel safe living there knowing he still had the keys.

The woman said police found her years later after other women came forward.

Under cross-examination by defense lawyer Ron Mansfield KC, the woman said she contacted people with knowledge of what happened that night to ensure her evidence was in order.

In a text message to the nanny, the woman said she regretted not complaining sooner. The nanny was at her home on the night of the alleged offence.

“Lots of girls are coming forward and talking about him. He’s a predator… He’s finally charged for all the rape and stalking he’s committed over the last 10 years,” the woman said in a text message.

The man pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of indecent assault, four counts of sexual assault with rape, three counts of sexual assault with unlawful sexual relations, two counts of attempted sexual assault, two counts of burglary, one count of assault with intent to commit sexual assault, and one count of not guilty. One was supplying ecstasy, one was supplying methamphetamine and the other was a deliberate attempt to obstruct justice.

Kelly Makiha is a senior journalist who has reported for the Rotorua Daily Mail for over 25 years, covering police, courts, human interests and social issues.


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