THE High Court has acquitted an elderly man who stood trial for allegedly having unlawful sexual intercourse with his 11-year-old grand-niece because she was an “unreliable witness.”
The High Court delivered the verdict in Honiara last Monday.
It found the complainant to be “an unreliable witness due to the contradictory and inconsistencies in her evidence at the trial.”
The elderly man was initially charged with two counts of sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 15. The two alleged offences occurred in Isabel, the first being on an unknown date between 31st August 2018 and 1st October 2018. The second allegedly occurred between 30th November 2018 and 1st January 2019.
The girl was 11 years old at the time while the accused was 75 years old.
At the end of the prosecution case, the defence filed a no-case to answer submissions in respect of both counts.
The prosecution conceded that there was no evidence on which the court could convict in relation to the second count.
As such, the court agreed and upheld the submissions in relation to the second count which resulted in the accused being discharged of it.
The trial then continued on with only one count but at the end of the hearing, the accused was acquitted of this count, leaving him a free man.
In his judgement, Justice Howard Lawry said the complainant’s evidence was “contradictory and inconsistent.”
The defence had acknowledged the complainant is related to the accused, lives in the same village and refers to him as “Granny”.
The accused however denied the Crown allegations that he called the complainant to his house, removed her clothes and have sexual intercourse with her.
The complainant’s father also gave evidence that the accused was his uncle.
The complainant, however, in her evidence said she did not know the accused, she did not have sex with him and then would say it was the accused who had sex with her.
She then testified that she had not previously seen the person who did these things to her and described the person as looking nice, being tall, being old and then being young.
Justice Lawry said the no evidence was elicited from the complainant at this stage about the allegation of an indecent act by the accused, or being given $10.00 or being told not to tell anyone.
“In this case, both counsels drew the Court’s attention to answers given by the complainant recorded as “I don’t know” to questions that it seems incredible that she would not know,” Lawry said.
He said in assessing the credibility of the complainant, the Court does not find her to be a reliable witness.
“Overall, the medical evidence supports an allegation that it is likely to have been some blunt penetration force to the complainant’s private body part but it does not prove what the force was nor by whom.
Justice Lawry said the inconsistencies of the complainant’s story are so great and the denials of the very evidence the prosecution relied on were such that the Court is left in no doubt that the prosecution falls short of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
As a result of this, the accused was acquitted of the remaining charge against him.
Private Lawyer Wayne Ghemu represented the accused while Public Prosecutor Dalcy Belapitu appeared for the Crown.
By ASSUMPTA BONGIDANI