IT TOOK a jury in Lismore District Court only 90 minutes to deliver a not guilty verdict in the trial of a Byron Bay nightclub manager charged with sexually assaulting a British backpacker.
The man had pleaded not guilty to three counts of indecent assault and one count of a rape after the woman accused him of assaulting her on November 1, 2008, at about 3.30am in a suburban Byron Bay street.
She was 19 at the time and the allegations were made to police following a Halloween night celebration.
The man strongly defended the charges and maintained in his own evidence before the court that he had not been with the woman at all that evening.
His defence counsel Grant Brady, during cross examination of the woman last week, put it to her that she had lied and made up the allegations because the man sacked her from a job with the nightclub. She denied this.
When the jury returned its verdict yesterday afternoon the emotion was too much with the highly relieved young man and his parents shedding tears in the courtroom.
Before the jury went out to consider its verdict, Mr Brady in his final submission argued there were many inconsistencies in her story with regard to what she had told police at the time, and 17 months later in what she testified in court.
“Either her memory is unbelievably bad or she was so unbelievably drunk she has no idea, or it didn’t happen and she is lying about it,” Mr Brady said.
“She says one thing to police and says another completely different thing to you (the jury).”
Mr Brady said the woman told police the assault happened in a driveway of a house but no house had matched the description she gave.
She did not tell police that it happened around the side of a house as she later stated in court.
The Crown in its final submission said the jury should use commonsense and take note that when a driver stopped to help her she had not feigned her hysteria but was behaving that way because ‘something unwelcome and frightening’ had happened to her.
“There are some things she was not entirely accurate about but she hasn’t made all this up. She did her best to recall what was a very traumatic and frightening experience for her,” the Crown said.
The Crown also said CCTV footage showed the man leaving the club with another man just moments before the woman left with a girlfriend.
The men were seen ‘loitering’ on the other side of the road before four sets of ‘legs’ were filmed walking off down Jonson Street.