21 May 2018

Ex-cop acquitted of sex charges fighting to become lawyer

11:08 pm on 21 May 2018

The mother of the former police officer who was twice cleared of sex charges and now wants to become a lawyer left the court in tears during testimony today.


Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Ethan James Brown, 27, who was previously acquitted of sexual offending while working as a police officer, applied to the High Court for admission as a barrister after the New Zealand Law Society would not accept him.

He resigned from the police following an employment investigation.

After leaving the police he completed a law degree but the Law Society declined a certificate of character and refused to admit him to the bar.

In the High Court in Auckland today the society's lawyer Paul Collins said their concern was around his honesty about the details of allegations and whether he took them seriously.

"His lack of probity shows a lack of insight into the seriousness of the events and shows him to still be an unreliable person in this area," he told the court.

In earlier correspondence the society told Mr Brown they needed to know of any findings from the police's disciplinary action against him. He denied there was any.

He told the court he had not mislead the society as he was only subject to an employment investigation and had resigned before any disciplinary hearing or action was taken.

"I wasn't intending to be dishonest," he said.

Paul Collins said Mr Brown had also failed to tell them the truth about his communications with a 13-year-old girl.

He said in initial correspondence with the society Mr Brown admitted he exchanged texts with her but maintained he did not know her age as she had told him in person she was 16.

Mr Collins spent much of the cross-examination pressing Mr Brown's recollection of her age, asking whether he accepted there was no independent evidence to support his position.

Text messages read out by Mr Collins showed the girl had told him she was 13 early on in their correspondence.

Mr Brown said he must have been aware of her age at the time but he'd been unable to remember the details of the texts until they were shown to him again seven years later.

"I didn't lie. I hadn't seen those text messages. I told what I honestly believed."

However, he admitted after reading them he must have known her age at the time.

"My memory failed me," Mr Brown said.

Mr Brown repeatedly said he was "disgusted" at his 19 year old self.

Mr Collins said the Society was concerned he didn't accept the seriousness of events like that.

"I know how serious things are and know how serious things were" Mr Brown said.

"I'm not a predator."

While under questioning his mother left the court in tears.

His lawyer Peter Davey said the events had happened a long time ago

"A lot of water has gone under the bridge since this immature 19 year old sent these inappropriate messages"

He said the behaviour hadn't continued through his legal studies and since joining the Public Defence Service.

Those close to him could vouch for how much he had changed. It was the court's role to look at his future not his past mistakes.

Justice Wylie reserved his decision.