Partial not guilty verdict for indecent assault accused

Bendigo Law Courts

Bendigo Law Courts

RELATED COVERAGE: Indecent assault trial begins

RELATED COVERAGE: Court hears trial evidence

The judge in the trial of a Rochester man accused of indecently assaulting an elderly woman has found him not guilty of one of the charges.

Jon Edgar Hewitt, 64, was facing three charges of indecent assault over alleged incidents at a northern Victorian aged care facility in January and February, 2012.

On Monday morning, after two and a half days of evidence, Judge Jane Patrick discharged the Bendigo County Court jury from reaching a verdict on charge one.

The charge related to accusations Hewitt indecently touched the 88-year-old woman in the crotch area during a visit to the nursing home.

"I have considered the evidence in relation to charge one (and) I have decided as a matter of law there is no case for Mr Hewitt to answer in respect of charge one," Judge Patrick said.

The two other charges relate to alleged incidents in February 2012 when Hewitt is accused of indecently touching the woman's leg and breast area.

During Monday's hearing, the jury was shown Hewitt's police interview in which he denied all accusations.

"There was no sexual relationship," Hewitt told police.

"She's got dementia...I just read the bible to her."

The court also heard closing addresses from the prosecution and defence.

Crown prosecutor Peter Jones said medical evidence given during the trial showed the alleged victim was mentally vulnerable and Hewitt had taken advantage of her on two occasions in February 2012.

Mr Jones argued Hewitt was familiar enough with the woman to understand the level of her mental decline and be aware she may not have been fully aware of what was going on between them.

"You couldn't find a better example of someone indecently assaulting someone else," he said. 

But defence barrister Jo Swiney described the prosecution case as "threadbare"and said there was insufficient evidence for her client to be found guilty.

Ms Swiney argued evidence given by two nurses had been tainted by the report of inappropriate behaviour by the woman's niece and said they could have been on the look out for something sinister.

She also said while the woman's niece gave evidence about seeing Hewitt and her aunt sitting close together with the woman's dress bunched up around her waist, her husband had thought they may have been praying.

"(It's) not reliable enough to convict on such a serious charge," Ms Swiney said.

"The only conceivable verdict is a resounding not guilty."

Following closing address, Judge Jane Patrick began her directions to the jury.

Judge Patrick is expected to finish her instructions on Tuesday before sending the jury out to deliberate.

Hewitt has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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