A Christchurch jury has rapidly rejected a teenager’s story that a visiting Australian sportswoman willingly had sex with him on a bench in a dark inner city park.
After retiring for 75 minutes, the jury found Maia Crawford Rongonui guilty of assaulting the 21-year-old tourist with intent to commit sexual violation, and sexually violating her in the attack at Easter 2007.
The four-day trial in the Christchurch District Court ended with Judge Jane Farish remanding Rongonui in custody for sentence in a fortnight.
She asked his parents — who were both in court for the verdict — to make a written submission about their son in time for the sentencing, where he will face a substantial jail term.
She also had crown prosecutor Kerryn Beaton hand up the criminal record of Rongonui, a 19-year-old shearer from Masterton, and read some of the entries to the jury after the verdicts were given.
Rongonui was last year convicted of burglary, two assaults, and doing an indecent act with intent to offend.
He had denied the woman’s story that he had offered to show her the way to her backpacker hostel after meeting her in Christchurch’s inner-city Manchester Street after she had spent the night partying with teammates on April 7, 2007.
She thought he was leading her back to the hostel, but then realised they were walking the wrong way.
Rongonui led her to a bench in a park in Aberdeen Street, off Manchester Street, tried to kiss her and sexually assaulted when she pushed him away.
She said he punched her, kicked her in the head and then forced his penis into her mouth before she managed to push him off and ran off calling for help on her phone.
The jury rejected Rongonui’s evidence that it was a consensual sexual encounter with the woman he had met a few minutes before.
His DNA was found on samples taken from her clothing and mouth.
Rongonui will be sentenced on September 25. Judge Farish called for a pre-sentence report and a victim impact statement from the woman, a student living on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
She returned from Australia to give evidence at the trial.
Rongonui appeared on the verge of tears as he was remanded for sentence and his parents spoke to him in Maori as he was led away to the cells.