New Zealand Police v Mark Russell [2016] NZDC 3683

Published 12 July 2016

Male assaults female — evidential burden not met. In these proceedings a charge of assault was dismissed because, on the evidence, the Judge was unable to determine that the charge was made out beyond reasonable doubt. It was alleged the defendant came out of his room and assaulted the complainant while she was socialising with the defendant’s flatmate. The defendant was alleged to have punched the complainant above the left eye causing injury after becoming angry about the noise level. The defendant argued that the complainant had fallen from the property’s fence after he told her to leave. There was no basis for the Judge to determine that either party was more truthful than the other. Accordingly, reasonable doubt prevented the charge being proven. While the Judge viewed that it was highly likely the complainant was telling the truth in her version of events, in the absence of any independent evidence the requisite burden of proof was not met.