Roast Busters: Accused men plead not guilty, want jury trial

The two men charged after the Roast Busters scandal appeared in Waitakere District Court. Photo / John Weekes

Two men charged with sex offences after investigations into the Roast Busters saga have denied charges and sought a jury trial.

The two first appeared on December 23 when they were granted name suppression and entered no pleas.

Each man faced one charge of sexual connection with a young person aged 12-16.

At Waitakere District Court today not-guilty pleas were entered for both men.

Police allege the offending happened between late 2012 and early 2013 and involved a girl aged 14 at the time.

The accused men were 16 at the time.

One of the men sat alone in court. The other had two supporters with him.

They sat apart in the courtroom public gallery before being called to the dock together this afternoon.

Ron Mansfield, counsel for the first man, said interim name suppression should continue to ensure his client had a fair trial.

He said media already published a connection between this case and the so-called “Roast Busters” investigation.

“It’s not a case where there needs to be a connection.”

Mansfield said if his client had been charged as a 16-year-old instead of eight years later, he would have automatically had name suppression anyway.

“The delay is not his fault.”

Annabel Creswell, counsel for the second man, also said her client’s age at the time of alleged offending was relevant.

“He was 16 throughout the entire period of this allegation, which would have made him a youth.”

“That was then. This is now. They’re before the court as adults,” said Robert Stewart, counsel for the Herald and NZME.

“Police had always left open the possibility of there being a prosecution if further evidence came to light.”

He also addressed defence claims the two men would face extreme hardship if named.

“The starting point has always been the principle of open justice,” Judge Josephine Bouchier said when addressing name suppression.

But she added: “I have a concern about their fair trial rights.”

She said the matter would also generate “significant interest” and possibly cause the men extreme hardship.

Interim name suppression for both men, who will reappear for a case review on March 31, continues.

They were charged late last year.

A warrant was also issued for a third man. He is yet to appear in court and is believed to be in the United States.

Police have not ruled out pursuing his extradition if he fails to voluntarily return to New Zealand.

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