FORMER Griffith mayor Mike Neville told two women, “I’m the only one who can keep you out of jail” before sexually assaulting them, a Sydney court has heard.
Neville’s retrial on eight sex-related charges began yesterday afternoon with Crown prosecutor Adrian Robertson telling the court the Griffith councillor had used his power over the women, as their probation and parole officer, to commit the offences.
Mr Robertson said that, in August 2006, when one of the women came to his office to be interviewed for a pre-sentence report, Neville allegedly told her she would have to use her “assets” to stay out of jail.
“The woman was terrified by the thought of going to jail, and so when the accused said ‘get your gear off’, she did so,” Mr Robertson said.
Neville then allegedly sexually assaulted the woman.
The Crown alleged this was the first in a series of sexual assaults committed against the woman over the next 18 months as she went through the legal system.
On another visit to Neville’s offices, the accused allegedly told the woman, “I’m the only one who can keep you out of jail” before again sexually assaulting her.
He then allegedly introduced himself to the woman’s father who was waiting for her outside the office, shaking his hand on the way out.
Some months later, when the woman had been sentenced for her crime, Mr Neville allegedly became responsible for monitoring her while she undertook community service.
The court heard it was unusual for a probation and parole officer to have this role and Neville allegedly assaulted the woman while supervising her.
The jury heard that eventually the woman reported the assaults to police, confronting Neville at his office while police recorded his responses with hidden recording devices.
The accused allegedly made a number of admissions during this conversation and made partial apologies for what he had done.
But counsel for Mr Neville, Ray Hood, told the jury his client strenuously denied all of the charges against him.
He said many of the allegations would come down to his client’s word against those of the women, and that the jury might come to consider that the women were not reliable witnesses and that there were inconsistencies and problems with their evidence.
The trial, before Judge Laura Wells, continues.