Justice Keane cautioned jurors that throughout the trial they must assume that the defendant Tautua Solomona Iosefa was innocent and it was up to the Crown to prove his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.
Justice Keane told the panel they must focus on all the evidence.
The 12-member jury had been entrusted by the community with a duty and all must refrain from discussing it with anyone, especially people waiting in the courthouse lobby, he added.
Justice Keane stressed the jurors must set aside their emotions and views.
“You can’t have sympathy for the complainant or the defendant. Just focus on the evidence so the case is proven beyond reasonable doubt. Keep an open mind up until right to the end.”
Opening for the Crown, counsel Talissa Koteka said the incident occurred on October 8 last year in the early hours of the morning on an Avarua township back road.
The complainant and her boyfriend had been texting each other and had “a bit of an argument.”
The young woman who was 18 at the time, had walked to her boyfriend’s house. On arrival, the household was sleeping, so the young woman decided to return home, again along the back road. The accused had been drinking at the Takuvaine Clubhouse and left there with the intention of carrying on drinking at a friend’s place. He came upon the complainant walking home and stopped behind her. The complainant did not know the accused at the time.
While still seated on the motorbike, the Crown alleges the defendant dragged the complainant with one arm unto to the back seat, drove her a short distance and indecently assaulted her.
Koteka said the Crown had to prove the charge of indecent assault. She told jurors that assault can be the deliberate and unlawful touching of a person.
Koteka added that jurors had to decide whether what the complainant said happened to her constituted indecent assault. Finally, the Crown had to prove that the accused intended to indecently assault the woman.
Lead defence counsel Norman George assisted by Mark Short. said the thrust of the defence case was to establish that there had been no indecent assault. He stated that the events had been “created and choreographed by the defendant which has resulted in this trial.”
A map presented by the Crown caused some confusion as it did not include the position of the complainant’s house, nor arrows showing the direction she took when walking on the night she claims to have been indecently assaulted by Iosefa.