Tautua Solomona Iosefa appeared in the Avarua High Court last week before Justice Patrick Keane.
Facing up to seven years in prison, the defendant’s fate was left in the hands of the nine women and three men of the jury, who were told they “must act like judges”, when determining the outcome of the case.
The court heard that on October 8 last year, the complainant, a female then aged 18, had an argument with her boyfriend and decided to walk through the Avarua township back road in the early hours of the morning to his home.
On arrival at her boyfriend’s home address, the complainant found no-one awake and decided to return home via the back road.
Crown prosecutor Talissa Koteka said the accused had been drinking at the Takuvaine Clubhouse and had planned to continue drinking at a friend’s house, when he came across the complainant walking home and instead offered her a ride.
Koteka told the court that after the complainant refused the lift, the defendant allegedly pulled her by the arm and forced her on to his motorbike.
It was claimed that while still seated on the motorbike, the defendant dragged the complainant up on to the back of his motorbike, drove her a short distance and indecently assaulted her.
The court heard that before the alleged incident, the defendant was unknown to the complainant.
In her evidence, the complainant said she had turned to walk away when the defendant grabbed her and pulled her towards him and began to kiss, fondle and grope her.
The complainant said she couldn’t run away because she had an injured toe and was wearing jandals.
The 19 year old then said she pushed both his hands away, but was afraid to try anything else as she feared he would hurt her.
Crown told the court that while the accused was allegedly indecently assaulting the young woman, a motorbike appeared, driven by someone whom the complainant knew.
The young woman told the court she saw the female driver of the motorbike speak briefly to the defendant before approaching her. The complainant then asked to be dropped off at a friend’s home.
Police were later contacted and a complaint made.
Lead defence counsel Norman George, assisted by Mark Short, said their defence was governed by the notion that there had been no indecent assault, that the event had been allegedly “created and choreographed by the defendant,” and that the complainant had falsified the account of the indecent assault.
George put these allegations towards the complaint, who denied she had falsified her story, and reiterated that the defendant had indecently assaulted her.
The ability of a motorcycle driver to drag an individual onto the back of a motorbike, with one arm was then questioned, with George suggested that the task was impossible.
“It is impossible for someone sitting on a motorbike, with the engine running, to grab someone and force them onto the back of the bike unless they are willing,” George said.
The complainant maintained her order of events.
After a three-day trial, which saw 10 witnesses give evidence the case drew to a close.
On Wednesday last week the jury deliberated for five hours, before announcing their “not guilty” verdict.