Bedroom confusion cited in indecency trial

July 4, 2017 | By More

A man says a party ended with a drunken confusion of bedrooms which led to him being charged with groping a woman as she slept.

The 20-year-old woman had been put to bed drunk by her boyfriend, who later joined her in bed, at the end of an evening when the defence says she was “absolutely smashed”.

The boyfriend said he later woke when he found a third face, with stubble, in their bed in the darkness.

In the confusion and shouting that followed, 27-year-old Sharn Jason Te Hau was ordered from the bedroom, but not before he had punched the boyfriend in the head.

Te Hau denies a charge of indecently assaulting the woman, in a two-day Christchurch District Court trial before Judge Raoul Neave and a jury.

The woman said she was put to bed at midnight after having a lot to drink, including shots of spirits. There had been a “good vibe” at the party. “It was quite upbeat – a lot of fun.”

Her boyfriend told of helping her out of most of her clothes to make her more comfortable. She was naked from the waist up when she went to sleep.

The woman said she later “felt a lot of touching and groping” and assumed it was her boyfriend. She felt herself being touched on the leg, and breasts, and around her waist.

The woman’s boyfriend – they are no longer a couple – described the party: “The atmosphere was quite uncontrolled. By the end of the night, people were pretty much running amok.”

The woman’s brother said he had seen Te Hau in bed in another bedroom, after he had drunk a lot of alcohol, but when he checked later Te Hau wasn’t there. He assumed he had gone.

He then heard the shouting from another bedroom and found his sister upset, and her boyfriend shocked and confused, yelling at Te Hau to leave the room. He then removed Te Hau from the house.

Crown prosecutor Chris Bernhardt said that Te Hau had given a recorded interview with the police in which he admitted he was in bed with the woman, and had touched her legs and breasts, but he had stopped when the touching was “getting too heavy, and was inappropriate”.

Mr Bernhardt said Te Hau told the police he had not mistaken the woman for his girlfriend.

Defence counsel Tony Garrett urged the jury to use their common sense in considering evidence relating to a party where a “staggering” amount of alcohol had been consumed, and accurate recollection was questionable.

He asked the jury to consider whether it had been “deliberate, intentional touching” or a case of three heavily intoxicated people asleep in a bed”, where touching had taken place. He questioned whether it was a situation that “warrants the intervention of the criminal law”.


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