A jury has been told of previous convictions for indecent assaults on children by a man who has now gone on trial for child abuse sex offences dating back up to 40 years.
Defence counsel for David Stanley John Tranter urged the jury in the High Court at Christchurch to assess carefully the evidence they would hear from the complainants because of the long delay.
Moana Cole said: “How much of what they say can you be sure is accurate and reliable given the decay and distortion that all our memories are subject to over a significant period of time.”
She said the 64-year-old man’s defence was that the was no truth in the allegations, and the jury would have to “grapple with” the issue of whether the three complainants’ evidence was credible and sufficiently reliable and accurate to find the charges proven.
Tranter pleaded not guilty to the eight charges at the start of the two-week trial before Justice David Gendall and a jury.
The charges include three allegations of rape of girls, doing an indecent act on a girl aged under 12, sodomy on a boy aged under 16, inducing a boy to do an indecent act, indecent assault, and unlawful sexual connection with a girl.
Crown prosecutor Deirdre Elsmore said the offending involved two girls and a boy and took place in various towns around New Zealand from 1975 to 1993, as Tranter moved around the country, doing odd jobs, or caretaking work, and sometimes living in a housebus.
She told of him making a threat after offending. The three complainants only made separate allegations of the sexual abuse when they were adults.
She said the man who alleged he had been sodomised as a boy would give evidence that he was bleeding afterwards. Tranter had threatened he would be hurt if he told anyone.
One of the girls would say she had not told anyone what had happened because she was too frightened.
A girl who would allege she had been raped as a teenager would tell of an earlier incident when she had wet her pants and Tranter had told her off and run a bath for her. He had used a flannel to rub toothpaste on her genital area, causing a burning sensation.
Mrs Elsmore said the jury would be told that in 2003 Tranter had been convicted of indecent assaults on girls aged under 12 and under 16.
“The Crown says it is relevant because it shows the accused had a sexual interest in children,” she told the jurors. But she added: “It would be wrong to jump to the conclusion that he must be guilty because he has done something similar before.” The judge would give them directions on how to approach this evidence of the earlier convictions.
The trial is continuing.