Jury deliberates in Taranaki case alleging grooming and child sex abuse

The child sex abuse trial of Graham Simpson has been heard in New Plymouth District Court over the past fortnight.


The child sex abuse trial of Graham Simpson has been heard in New Plymouth District Court over the past fortnight.

A Taranaki jury in the case of a 73-year-old man accused of historical sex offences against two children has retired to consider its verdicts following nearly a fortnight of evidence.

Closings were heard in the trial of Graham Simpson, who has been charged with 10 counts of sexual offending against a boy and a girl known to him, on Thursday.

The trial began last Monday in New Plymouth District Court.

The Crown says Simpson sexually assaulted the girl on a number of occasions between 2015 and 2018, while she was aged 12 to 14.

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He has been further accused of sexually assaulting the boy from 2016 to 2018. The boy was 11 when the alleged abuse began, although this age was contested by defence.

Defence say Simpson accepted the sexual conduct described by the complainants was “indecent and utterly repugnant” – but it was not committed by him.

There was no forensic evidence, nor eyewitnesses, to back up the alleged offending which was heard to have mostly occurred at Simpson’s home.

Prosecutor Cherie Clarke told the jury Simpson had groomed the pair before going on to sexually abuse them.

He bought alcohol and cigarettes for the girl a number of times, and also supplied her with cannabis.

He drank beers with the boy.

Simpson denied buying the girl alcohol but later admitted to doing so on one occasion after he was caught on CCTV.

Clarke said Simpson took a keen interest in the kids’ lives, made them feel special and would often offer them massages.

Simpson’s evidence in the trial was inconsistent and unreliable, Clarke said.

He had also been caught out in a “self-serving lie” when he made an unsuccessful bid for name suppression, she alleged.

During Simpson’s evidence, he had tried to “blacken the character” of the girl, Clarke claimed.

The girl was once a “bright student” but her behaviour at school and home deteriorated and she began to self-harm, and use drugs and alcohol.

Clarke alleged her conduct was the result of Simpson’s abuse and that he was isolating her.

Defence lawyer Kylie Pascoe said Simpson had been used as a “scapegoat” for her bad behaviour.

Accusing him of the abuse only came about after a third party “planted the seed”, Pascoe alleged.

The girl was asked if she was being abused by Simpson and this “gave her a ‘get out of trouble free’ card.”

She had never before made such a disclosure, but went on to say he had.

Initially she did not want to make a police complaint, but Pascoe alleged pressure from family saw her do so.

In February 2019, Simpson was arrested and charge with abusing the girl, then 22 months later he was arrested and charged with sex crimes on the boy.

Pascoe claimed the boy had made a false complaint to support the girl. But the Crown said a delay in complaints was common with child sex cases, and the boy had been embarrassed.

There was no evidence of collusion between the pair.

Both of the complainants’ evidence was unreliable, Pascoe claimed, adding the girl had “slipped up a number of times” while giving her “evolving” story.

Simpson was physically incapable of the alleged offending, Pascoe said, explaining Simpson suffered erectile dysfunction.

Defence called a number of witnesses to speak to the “good character” of Simpson, who was a solo-father and had led a “blemish-free life”.

Following Judge Gregory Hikaka’s summing-up of the case, the jury retired, and will continue its deliberations on Friday.

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