Tony Russell Wells
A repeat sex offender who raped a woman he picked up in Palmerston North has had his appeal quashed after failing to prove the evidence used to convict him was flawed.
Tony Russell Wells was sentenced to 8 years' jail last year for the rape and sexual violation of the woman.
He was found guilty by a jury after a trial in 2012.
In the early hours of March 20, 2003, he picked up a woman who was stuck in Palmerston North for the night and was sitting alone in The Square.
He offered her a lift to his mother's house, but instead drove to an isolated country road, raped and violated her, and then returned her to town.
Immediately after Wells was found guilty, defence lawyer Simon Hewson said he would be filing an appeal.
But a Court of Appeal judgment published this month supports the jury's decision. Wells' appeal was largely based around issues with DNA evidence, mainly because it was six years between the swabs being taken from the victim and being opened.
His appeal suggested that it was possibly not stored correctly, and the DNA match with Wells was not found in the usual way.
ESR forensic scientist Sarah Cockerton said at the trial that semen samples went through a process to separate the sperm cells from other cells. The DNA match to Wells came from the other cells, which could be seen as more fragile material to test.
Hewson's expert witness at the appeal, forensic scientist Sean Doyle, told the hearing the DNA evidence could be fragile and still reliable.
The judgment said: "While the frailties meant the evidence was not as probative as it would have been if the analysis had been undertaken at the time of the offending . . . we are not persuaded that the evidence was so unreliable as to be inadmissible."
Any issues Hewson had with fingerprint evidence were made "forcefully" at trial and fairly summarised by Judge Les Atkins, the judgment said. Atkins gave the standard explanation about expert witnesses to the jury.
Hewson argued Wells' sentence was too long, but that appeal was also quashed.
- Manawatu Standard
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
|Event Date||Event||Court Location||Offence Type||Offence Date||Committed While||Sentence Imposed|
|1-10-2014||Appeal hearing||Court of Appeal Palmerston North||Sexual violation by rape||20-3-2003||8 Years, 6 Months, Imprisonment||▼|