Tears and gasps from family and supporters in the public gallery greeted guilty verdicts against two men on trial for the rape of a 16-year-old girl in the sand dunes at Woodend Beach.
The jury returned not guilty verdicts on 13 other charges against three men who were then released at the end of the 13-day trial in the High Court at Christchurch.
Isaac Jason Mould, 21, from Woodend, and Troy Matua James McIver, 21, a rigger, were found guilty of rape and Justice David Gendall remanded them in custody for sentencing on February 12. He called for pre-sentence reports.
The rape verdict against Mould was a majority, but all the other verdicts were unanimous.
Brook Sebastian Norris, a 22-year-old landscape gardener from Brooklands, had originally also been charged with rape but that charge was dismissed at the end of the Crown case. The jury then found him not guilty of being a party to the sex offending.
Ky Robert Reginald Reid, a 21-year-old logging contractor from Woodend, was found not guilty of being a party to the sex offending.
Stuart Mitchell Lewis, 21, was found not guilty on a charge of unlawful sexual connection with the girl – the Crown alleged he had forced her to perform oral sex while one of the rapes was taking place – and also acquitted him of being a party to the sex offences.
The Crown had alleged that those present were parties because they had encouraged or supported the actual offenders, but at the end of the trial, no-one was convicted as a party.
The girl – often overwhelmed and in tears – gave evidence during part of each of the first four days of the trial. She had more than the usual breaks, and once said she had had enough for the day at lunch time, as the cross-examination went ahead by five defence counsel.
She told the trial that she had gone to a bonfire gathering on Woodend Beach on the night of May 23, 2014, and ended up away from the fire where she alleged rape and sexual violation took place while other men stood around. She said she had repeatedly said no, but the defence for Mould and McIver said they believed they had consent for the sex acts that took place.
The jury considered its verdicts for a total of 20 hours since it began its deliberations on Monday afternoon. A group of family and supporters of the five men waited outside the court room throughout the week while the jury deliberated, and many were in tears afterwards. Apart from gasps, they were quiet during the long process of taking the 15 verdicts.
Justice Gendall thanked the jury for the care they had taken in the case, and their contribution to the community.
He also thanked the eight counsel involved in the trial. “It has been a long almost three weeks for us all,” he said.