Breast-fondling case raises beguiling questions about how prominent figures are demoted

And was he ever considered “prominent”?

It’s very teasing of the court to continue to suppress the name of a bloke found guilty on three charges of indecently assaulting his stepdaughter.

He is described at Stuff today (here) simply as a former prominent figure.

Not a prominent figure, but a former prominent figure, it should be noted.

According to Stuff –

After a three-day retrial a jury of six men and women today found him guilty on three charges of indecent assault which date back to 30 December 2009.

They reached a unanimous guilty verdict on a charge relating to stroking the girl’s breast and majority verdicts on two other charges of indecently touching her and kissing her back.

The man, who has name suppression, shook his head in disbelief at the verdicts.

This is not the first time he had been found guilty.

The same verdict had been reached when he faced the same charges at the first trial in May last year.

On that occasion he was sentenced to 15 months in the slammer, but he was not banged up because an appeal was lodged and he was released on bail.

And so he has had to go through another trial.

At the second trial this week the jury was told it was a retrial but not why. It can now be revealed that the Appeal Court quashed his convictions in the first trial and ordered the retrial.

His previous lawyer Jonathan Eaton made the successful appeal but the Appeal Court in its judgement last December suppressed publication of the proceedings and the result until the outcome of the retrial.

It seems the retrial hearing began on Tuesday.

The girl told the court the man stroked her right breast while watching television in the lounge of their Nelson home, and later in her bedroom indecently touched her and kissed her back.

But the accused has steadfastly denied the charges and is adamant the alleged indecent assaults did not happen.

So who do we believe?

Judge Peter Butler in his summing up had told the jury to focus their deliberations on the issue of whether the events did actually happen.

“You must ask yourselves has the Crown proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused touched the complainant in the way alleged in the counts,” he said.

Booze comes into the prosecution’s account of what happened.

Prosecutor Mark O’Donohue, in his closing address, said the accused had drunk more than usual that night and become dis-inhibited and did something out of character.

He told the jury he had prosecuted the case more in sadness than in anger.

“In consideration of the whole of the evidence you can be sure (the girl) has told the truth and the accused has committed the three offences he is charged with,” he said.

But defence counsel Pip Hall said the girl’s evidence was inconsistent, jumbled and confused.

She had convinced herself that something had happened, it was a real belief, and it snowballed. After she told her mother and the police, there was no going back because she had invested too much in her allegation, he said.

The accused has been remanded on bail for sentencing on November 13.

While he is on bail, all former prominent persons will come under suspicion.

Mention of booze means some people might be ungracious enough to point the finger at Alf, so he is grateful that on this occasion he can deny being a prominent person, former or otherwise.

Except, of course, he is very prominent in his constiuency.

He draws attention to mention of a house in Nelson.

He has never lived there.

Furthermore he does not have a stepdaughter.

But the case has had Alf musing on what must happen to a prominent figure to be demoted in the court of public opinion to the rank of former prominent figure.

On the other hand, as someone who strongly believes he should be a prominent figure nationally, and not just in his own home town of Eketahuna, he wonders what must be done to be given that accolade.

But for immediate purposes he must admit to being grateful he has never been as prominent as he would like to be, and this being so he will not come under suspicion from those who will be conjecturing on the identity of the former prominent figure in this case.

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