Monday, September 8, 2008

Friendly guide in sex attack: court

A young Australian tourist thought a teenager was being friendly and helpful in offering to show her to her backpackers' hostel before he launched a brutal sex attack on her, a court was told today.

Maia Crawford Rongonui, 18, of Masterton, went on trial in Christchurch District Court today over allegations that he assaulted the Gold Coast woman with intent to sexually violate her, and sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

He denied both charges before Judge Jane Farish and a jury at a trial expected to last four days.

Crown prosecutor Ruth Thomas said the woman was in Christchurch for a sports tournament and was drinking with her teammates in the city early on April 8, 2007, but became separated from her friends.

The Crown says she then met Rongonui in the street and thought he was being helpful and friendly by walking her back to her hostel.

When they got to a small park along the way, they both sat down and Rongonui tried to kiss her. She resisted and he attacked her, hitting her and then kicking her when she was on the ground.

While the woman struggled, he forced her mouth open and put his penis inside, the Crown said.

She pushed him off but he then tried to undo her jeans. She pushed him off again, got up and ran off calling on her phone for her friends.

The friends found her distressed. She had a swollen left cheek, two lumps on the back of her head where she had been kicked, and a bruise on her forearm.

Forensic testing found semen on her jeans, her top, and on a swab taken from her mouth. This was identified as most likely originating from Rongonui.

He was interviewed by the police after they received an anonymous phone call after a computer sketch was published in the media.

He denied meeting an Australian girl on the night, but later told police he had met her.

He said she had been "kissing everyone". He denied sexually violating or assaulting her.

The woman, now aged 21, has travelled from Queensland to give evidence at the trial.


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