Alleged victim accused of telling ‘evolving’ story

The complainant in a rape, kidnapping, and bashing trial has been accused by the defence of telling an “evolving” story.

After hearing closing addresses by the Crown and defence, and the summing up from Justice David Gendall in the High Court at Christchurch, the jury has now retired to consider its verdicts in the trial of 43-year-old Luke James Henry.

Henry pleaded guilty to two assault charges as the trial began on Monday, admitting that he choked the woman in the September 2016 incident, but he denied all other charges.

The Crown said on Monday the pair had met on an online dating site, and the woman had been raped several times in the course of a weekend incident in which she said she was also assaulted and strangled.

The defence called no evidence, but counsel Josh Lucas accused the woman of telling a story that kept evolving, and making her complaints to get rid of Henry when he became annoying.

He said there was no physical evidence of any of the offending, and the only forensic evidence placed before the trial seemed to count against the Crown allegations.

He said tissues found at the scene – which the woman said had been used by Henry after a rape only 30 minutes before the police arrived – did not show traces of semen, according to the ESR which conducted the tests.

The evidence was that the woman had been able to speak to two or three people while the Crown alleged she was being detained by Henry. “He wasn’t hiding her from the outside world,” said Mr Lucas.

The defence suggested that a text message about Henry “detaining someone against their will” could have been sent by the woman herself.

Crown prosecutor Barnaby Hawes said two texts sent to associates by Henry were “decisive pieces of evidence”. One said that he was going to “track down (the woman) and smash her over”. The other said that he was “holding someone against their will”.

He rejected the defence contention that the woman had sent the text herself while Henry was asleep. If she had sent it, surely it would have been a “better” text message giving more details.

The message was consistent with Henry’s other behaviour, he said. He said it also went a long way to prove the rape allegations. “How can you have consensual sex with someone who is being held against their will?” he asked.

The jury retired to consider its verdicts when Justice Gendall finished his summing up after 3pm on the fourth day of the trial. At 5.30pm, it was sent home overnight and will return to its deliberations at 9.30am on Friday.

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