​‘Grandfather’ acquitted of sexual assault

A court has acquitted an elderly man from allegations he sexually assaulted a nine-year-old girl in 2015.

The Waigani National Court conducted a trial last week against the man from Abau in the Central Province and found him not guilty because it was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt he was the one who sexually assaulted the girl.

Both the state and defence put forward a strong case in the trial that saw five witnesses give evidence in court.

The state presented a medical report of the girl’s injuries in court during the trial but could not further clarify the medical jargons through an expert medical practitioner because the author of the report could not be brought to court.

Defence relied on the existing animosity between the families living under the same roof, which they said caused them to make up the allegations against the accused.

Land dispute at home between the accused and father of the victim was another factor brought up. 

It was the state’s allegation that the man, who was seen as a grandfather to the victim, sexually violated the girl, who was nine years old then, by using his fingers on the morning of March 20, 2015, between 5 and 5:30.

The victim, her grandmother and brother slept in the living room of the house where the victim also slept in that day.

It was a case that came down to whose word was true and the court had to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence.

The trial judge in his ruling today said the law is that, if both sides’ story is equally strong before the court, the law in criminal court jurisdiction is that the defence gets the benefit of a doubt. That is also applied throughout the world.

The court acquitted the man and ordered a refund of his K500 bail monies.

Sally Pokiton