Accuser's 'credibility' questioned in senior Northland policeman's sexual assault trial

The trial of a senior Northland police officer facing four sexual offences is wrapping up in the High Court.

Kevin Burke has been charged with two counts of indecent assault and two of sexual violation. Prosecutors told the jury he took advantage of two vulnerable women.

But lawyers for Burke are questioning a complainant's credibility because she said he had tattoos, but he doesn't.

Burke was a senior officer at the Orewa Police station when he says he struck a friendship with two women he met through separate crimes reported to him in 2002 and 2003.

Crown prosecutors say Burke helped them regarding their situation with other men in their lives at the time - but took advantage of them once he'd gained their trust.

"It appears that the defendant sensed that vulnerability and acted on it," Crown Prosecutor Jo Murdoch told the court.

Both complainants say Burke turned up to their homes unannounced.

One of the women said he brought a box of beer and wine and while she didn't drink she was concerned at how much he had so offered him the spare bedroom. That is when the alleged sexual violation took place.

But lawyers for Burke say the sexual contact was consensual. The defence questioned the plausibility of a complainant's account - saying she could not accurately recall if he had tattoos.

"That goes to the heart of a credibility of a human being. She said he had a hairy back because she's been told. She says he has a tattoo because she thinks she won't be found out," defence lawyer Arthur Fairley said in court.

The Crown told the jury to consider why Burke had noted in his notebook that there was a 19-year age gap between him and one of the complainants, which was later scrubbed out.

"There is no legitimate reason for investigating officer to be working out age difference unless there was a personal interest," Ms Murdoch said.

Burke was working as a detective inspector until he was stood down in 2017.

The jury is expected to retire on Thursday to consider their verdict.


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