7 Dec 2017

Former teacher on trial for sexual abuse

7:31 pm on 7 December 2017

A former Wanganui Collegiate music teacher groomed and sexually abused a student over four years, the Crown says.

Exterior of the Manukau District Court

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Trevor Ian Gibbs, who's name suppression lapsed today, has denied five charges of doing an indecent act on a boy and one of sodomy.

He is on trial at the Manukau District Court where lawyers for the Crown and defence gave their closing addresses today.

In his closing to the jurors, Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes said the case was simple. It came down to whether the jurors believed the complainant or whether they believed he made up vicious lies.

He said if it was lies then it would be a huge coincidence, given Mr Gibbs had admitted sexual offending against two other students in a similar way.

Mr Rhodes said on the other hand, the complainant had given truthful and compelling evidence - he was able to describe details such as the rooms, the doors to the rooms and even the door handles where the sexual abuse took place.

He said Mr Gibbs chose the places where the abuse would take place - in his office at school and in the attic space above his office.

The complainant did not tell anyone at the time because he had no one to turn to, he said.

Instead, he had waited until both his parents had died before coming forward.

But Mr Gibbs' lawyer said the case was tricky.

Annabel Maxwell-Scott said the case's historical nature meant some witnesses had died and others had to rely on their memory stretching back decades.

The world was a different place when the sex abuse is said to have happened - there were no mobile phones, no computers and being gay was illegal, she said.

She said for Mr Gibbs to have carried out this abuse - he would have risked everything, including his job and his career.

Ms Maxwell-Scott said some Crown witnesses had given evidence about anonymous letters being written to Mr Gibbs' ex wife and even the principal of the school.

There were more anonymous notes in this case than an Agatha Christie novel, she said.

But she also said there was no evidence of the notes having existed and many of them were only talked about by Mr Gibbs' ex-wife after an acrimonious divorce.

Ms Maxwell-Scott said the complainant's evidence stemmed from his shame at being gay, which was illegal at the time.

She said he made up the story about being abused to a girlfriend because he couldn't admit to her that he was gay.

Tomorrow the jurors will hear Judge Richard McIlraith sum up the case before they retire to consider their verdicts.