R v Griffin [2018] NZDC 16389

Published 05 September 2019

Mode of evidence — evidence from behind screen — admissibility of letter — admissibility of witness evidence — previous consistent statements — R v O [2012] NZCA 475 — R v Kahui HC Auckland CRI-2006-057-1135, 10 July 2007 — Tu’uaga v R [2003] NZCA 81 — A v R [2014] NZCA 191 — Hart v R [2010] NZSC 91, [2011] 1 NZLR 1, (2010) 24 CRNZ 924 — Rongonui v R [2010] NZSC 92, [2011] 1 NZLR 23, (2010) 24 CRNZ 946 — Criminal Procedure Act 2011, s 101 — Evidence Act 2006, ss 7, 8, 25, 35, 103, 104 & 105. The defendant faced three charges of sexual violation by rape. The complainant was his wife, who alleged that during their ten-year marriage he had repeatedly raped her in her sleep. In this pretrial matter the Crown made three pretrial applications: that the complainant be allowed to give her evidence from behind a screen, for a ruling on the admissibility of a letter from the defendant to the complainant and a ruling as to the admissibility of the evidence of three witnesses. The Crown submitted that the complainant be allowed to give evidence from behind a screen because she was scared of the defendant and would be distracted if she could see him while giving evidence. Also the offending was traumatic and to give evidence about it would be stressful. The Court considered that the application did not justify the use of a screen, saying that there were no continuing issues between the defendant and the complainant and that the use of a screen may be unfairly prejudicial to the defendant, judicial direction notwithstanding. The Court declined this application. In regards to the letter, the Crown submitted that it was relevant as it supported the complainant's allegations. In the letter the defendant expressed remorse for the problems he caused within the marriage. The defendant argued that the letter had no probative value and would be unfairly prejudicial. The Court agreed that the letter as a whole was potentially prejudicial, but ruled that a specific part of the letter could be led, as it supported the complainant's allegations. Finally, the Crown sought to admit the evidence of three witnesses that would serve to counter the defendant's likely challenges to the complainant's veracity. However the Court disagreed with the Crown's argument that the defendant's remarks in a police interview were an indication that the defendant intended to challenge the complainant's veracity as an invention inspired by jealousy and vindictiveness. The Court ruled that the evidence of the three witnesses was not to be led, but added that the Crown could apply to call the evidence at trial if the defendant did end up challenging the complainant's veracity on the ground of invention. Judgment Date: 13 August 2018. ***Note: names have been changed to meet legal requirements.***