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Inadequate investigation into an alleged sexual assault

7 May 2024

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found a man was inappropriately charged with a serious sexual assault arising from events in Auckland in October 2019, as a result of an inadequate Police investigation.

A woman arranged to view a rental property owned by the man, who began showing her around the property. Within minutes, the woman had locked herself in the lavatory and called Police, alleging the man had sexually assaulted her. Police attended and arrested the man. We found the arrest to be justified as Police initially had good cause to suspect he had committed serious offences.

The woman told Police that, after refusing to have sex with the man, he punched her several times in the face and head, tried to remove her underwear, ripped the buttons from the front of her dress, and threatened to kill her. We note that none of the officers observed any injuries on the woman and that the buttons on her dress were undone and pulled loose, but not torn off.

While being interviewed by a trainee detective at Avondale Police Station, the man raised several matters that should have caused Police to question the veracity of the woman’s statement. He told Police there was insufficient time to commit the offences based on the timeline of events. He also told Police he believed he may be being ‘set up’ by a man who had previously been charged with assaulting him, and who may be linked to the woman.

At this point, if a more thorough assessment was completed of the available evidence, it is likely Police would have discovered the woman’s claims at least warranted further investigation. Police could have charged the man with a lesser offence while assessing and investigating the information. Instead, they charged him with threatening to kill and assault with the intention to commit rape.  

Throughout the subsequent Police investigation, the man, his legal representatives and others raised multiple points that cast doubts about the woman’s allegations. It took Police almost a year to review the timeline of events, and to extract data off the woman’s phone. Just before the man’s trial was about to start, Police identified the inconsistencies in the woman’s statements, and established a connection between the woman and the person the man suspected was attempting to extort property and money from him. This resulted in the withdrawal of the charges against the man. The woman was subsequently charged with making false statements.

As a result of the charges and the length of time before they were withdrawn, the man and his family suffered significant financial, emotional, and reputational damage, which Police have since acknowledged.

Public Report 

Inadequate investigation into an alleged sexual assault (PDP 434 KB) 

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