Guilty verdicts in historic sex trial

April 13, 2017 | By More

A jury has accepted two women’s evidence of sex offending dating back as far as the 1950s, and convicted a 77-year-old man on eight charges.

Justice David Gendall also lifted name suppression on Sidney John Hurst as the eight-day trial ended in the High Court at Christchurch.

Hurst’s defence was that the memories of the two women were wrong or had been reconstructed over the years because of their antipathy towards Hurst.

But after retiring to consider its verdicts for more than a day, the jury of 11 remaining jurors returned guilty verdicts on all charges. On one charge, it was a majority verdict but the others were all unanimous.

Hurst stood impassive in the dock as the verdicts were read, but there were hugs and tears among people gathered in the public gallery.

The offending related to two girls – six charges involving one of them and two charges for the other – between 1955 and 1975. One woman told of offending as far back as 1955 and the other alleged offending dating back to 1967.

Some of the charges were so old that they had to be brought under the 1908 Crimes Act rather than the current legislation.

Hurst denied raping one of the girls when he was a teenager, and repeatedly indecently assaulting both girls when one was aged up to 13 years and the other aged up to 14.

Crown prosecutor Deidre Orchard had told the jury that the rape occurred when one of the women was aged five or six. The girl had not understood what happened at the time, but she had since realised from her memories of the sights and movements that she must have been raped.

Justice Gendall remanded Hurst in custody for sentencing on June 14.

He thanked the jury members for their service, and thanked the counsel – Mrs Orchard for the Crown, and Pip Hall QC and Ethan Huda for the defence – for their conduct of a difficult trial.

 

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