Arthur Allan Thomas' defence labels evidence of Crown witness 'stuff of fantasy'

The defence has called into question the testimony of a key Crown witness in the trial of Arthur Allan Thomas.

Arther Allan Thomas. Source: 1 NEWS

In her summing up this afternoon, lawyer Marie Dhyrberg say the man’s evidence is unreliable and the jury should not consider it.

“He is telling you the stuff of fantasy. He cannot himself rely on his own memory, how can you?” Ms Dyhrberg said. “To even countenance him as a witness you can rely on is simply not fair to Mr Thomas.”

The Crown contends Thomas was an offender and also encouraged another man to participate in sexual activity with the two female complainants. The trial is now in its seventh day at the Manukau District Court.

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The Crown and defence are completely at odds over how reliable the testimony is. Source: 1 NEWS

Earlier today, the Crown Prosecutor said the jury may well decide the witness “was a good man.”

Prosecutor Aaron Perkins referred to the man’s police interview in 2019 about the alleged offending and asked, “How easy would it have been to deny all knowledge but he didn’t …”

But the defence says the man’s testimony did not corroborate the complainants’ evidence, rather it contradicted it.

Dyhrberg said the man was so stressed he was unable to answer questions under cross examination about his testimony.

“He is very, very unreliable, far too unreliable to convict someone,’ she told the jury.

The defence has maintained throughout that the charges against Arthur Thomas stem from a dispute over money.

“Once you start not telling the truth it’s harder and harder to stop because dishonesty has its own momentum," Dyhrberg said.

She claimed the complainants had not told the truth and "it’s got out of control".

Crown's summary

The Crown earlier directly addressed the high-profile legal history of Arthur Allan Thomas in its summing up this morning.

Prosecutor Aaron Perkins described Thomas’ wrongful conviction for the murders of Jeanette and Harvey Crew in 1970 as an “unusual feature” of this case.

"He was pardoned and received compensation. It’s perfectly understandable to have considerable sympathy for him,” Perkins told the jury. “But to do justice to this case .. put your feelings aside.”

Perkins said there is no doubt the past criminal proceedings have ‘relevance to both sides’ but that “the relevance is limited .. and does not involve bringing sympathy into this.”

The prosecutor dismissed defence claims that the charges of sexual assault and rape stem from a dispute about money.

He asked the jury what impression the Crown witnesses had left on them.

Perkins said in coming to court, the complainants had disclosed intimate details of the alleged historical offending "to a room full of strangers … do you really think they're making it up?"

He also referenced the evidence of a witness who testified he had been encouraged by Thomas to participate in sexual activity with the complainants.

“You may well decide that he is a good man,” Perkins said. “How easy it would’ve been to deny all knowledge but he didn't because it had been on his mind his whole adult life.”

The Crown is expected to take about two hours to sum up its case to the jury of eight men and four women.

Closing arguments

The jury will hear closing arguments today in the historical sexual abuse trial of Arthur Allan Thomas. 

The complainants, their husbands and the man who claims he was encouraged to participate in sexual activity were among those who’ve given evidence for the Crown.

Thomas is now 83 years old and denies the charges which were laid after the complainants went to police in 2019.

He is facing four charges of sexual assault and one of rape.

During the course of the trial, the defence has maintained that this case stems from a dispute about money.

Defence lawyer Marie Dyhrberg has produced a letter in evidence showing some time after the alleged offending.

Thomas’s lawyers raised the issue of extortion with the complainants and encouraged them to seek legal advice.

The complainants have denied they wanted money from Thomas.

Suppression orders around the identity of the complainants means media have been unable to report much of the evidence.