Alleged victim cross-examined over letter praising accused officer

2019-02-20 10:16:55

One of the complainants in a High Court trial of police officer Kevin Burke has been recalled to give more evidence, after a letter she had written to police praising Mr Burke's actions surfaced yesterday.

The recall became a tense exchange while she was under cross-examination by the defence lawyer, Arthur Fairley, when she refused to answer a question as to why she didn't raise the alleged sexual offence with a friend, a former police officer, earlier than she did.

"How dare you," she said at one point during the cross examination.

Mr Fairley raised concern the complainant was not answering a number of questions he'd put to her.

The letter, which was examined today, was sent on 11 January, 2002, three days after the complainant said she had first been in contact with Mr Burke, but before she alleges the offence occurred.

It was only provided to the court this week, during the trial, after being discovered by police in a file.

The woman accepts she wrote the letter, which praised Mr Burke for listening to her when she spoke to him to complain about another matter.

She said when she had raised it with another police station, she had been told to come back the next day, and was made to feel like it was a figment of her imagination.

"I felt so fantastic because he believed me," she said.

The letter of commendation was addressed to Auckland's top police officer, and passed on to the district commander who oversaw Mr Burke in Orwell, where he was based.

Under cross examination, the woman said she had absolutely no memory of writing the letter before it was shown to her today, nor the two responses that police had sent back to her about a week after in 2002.

Mr Fairley said there were contradictions between what she wrote in the letter, and the evidence she gave earlier in the trial.

But the complainant, through various rebuttals, denies these, and that any were intentional.

"What have I got to lie about?

"I wouldn't have sent a letter like this if it wasn't the truth."

Mr Fairley said the woman had a coffee date with Mr Burke between 8 January, when she was first in contact with him, and 11 January, when the letter was written. The woman said she had no contact with him between those dates.

Earlier in the trial, she gave evidence that Mr Burke turned up at her house unannounced with beer and wine, roughly two weeks after she initially spoke to him.

She lived alone and did not drink.

The woman said Mr Burke proceeded to get drunk on her deck, so she made him food and made up a bed for him in the spare room to stop him from driving intoxicated.

She said Mr Burke grabbed her, and pulled her on top of him onto the bed and held her.

"He started to kiss her all over her face and neck and he then ended up on top of her, physically overpowering her and bringing her to the floor," Crown Prosecutor Jo Murdoch said.

She alleges Mr Burke held her arms above her head with one hand and pulled down her leggings before sexually assaulting her.

Mr Fairley said the two had a relationship, and the sexual activity was consensual.

"In fact phone contact was made before January 8, and before he turns up on the 17th, there is phone contact, coffee, perhaps a dinner and then he stays the night and there was consensual sexual activity," he said.

Mr Burke pleaded not guilty to two charges of indecently assaulting a woman over 16 and of unlawful sexual connection with a woman over 16.

The trial, heard by Justice Sarah Katz and a jury at the High Court at Auckland, continues.

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