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Nothing innocent about visit to sex offender's home, prosecutors say

Alexandra Back

Published: December 7 2017 - 8:23PM

Three men accused of trying to break into a sex offender's home after seeing a video of him molesting a girl were not just stopping by to borrow a cup of sugar, a jury heard on Thursday.

They were not "politely knocking on the door for a chat", the prosecutor Rebecca Christensen said.

She told the ACT Supreme Court jury the men were there with the intent of harming or threatening the 62-year-old man.

But barristers for the men said the Crown relied on a witness, the alleged victim, whose inconsistent accounts of what happened that morning raised doubts.

The trial has heard that one of the men, Paul Arthur Palmer, 39, had a video on his phone that the sex offender had filmed of himself molesting an underage girl.

Mr Palmer told police that he went to the man's home only to bang on the door, show the man he had the video and to educate him.

He said police had the video days ago but had not done anything about it.

The Crown says that at about 7am on February 20, Mr Palmer, along with Daniel James Nicholas, 32, and Joshua Darcy Watson, 33, went to the house and, armed with a knife, tried to force entry to hurt or threaten the man.

They have all pleaded not guilty to one count of attempted aggravated burglary.

In her closing address, Ms Christensen said the men were frustrated by what they saw as the police's lack of action, though detectives were pursuing the case.

She said the Crown did not say the men should not feel upset, angry, or even livid about the sex offender's acts.

She said that explains why they did what they did.

But no type of vigilante justice was acceptable, the prosecutor said, and when people take the law into their own hands the law says it will not be tolerated.

She described damage to the front door that was consistent with people trying to break in, she said.

The knife police found outside the house had a bend in the tip consistent with being used in the lock, Ms Christensen said.

The alleged victim hid in his room and called triple-o, which was more consistent with people trying to break in, she said.

That the men tried to flee from police revealed their guilty mind, she said.

But barristers for the three men said there were inconsistencies in the victim's account, and a close look at the evidence would give the jury a doubt.

Barrister for Mr Watson, Beth Morrisroe, said there was no damage to the lock despite allegations one man was using a knife and to try to open it.

She said the man never told the triple-o operator about a knife, but "wouldn't a weapon be the first thing you'd scream down the line?"

Barrister Alyn Doig, for Mr Nicholas, questioned how a door with minor damage could show a serious attempt to enter the premises.

He said the man first told police he heard yelling for him to open the door, and there was a lot more reality in that than his different account months later.

It "doesn't cut the mustard", he said.

And the barrister for Mr Palmer, James Sabharwal, suggested the alleged victim may have embellished what happened.

He questioned whether the alleged victim had really heard wire being used in the lock from his second floor bedroom.

"You might think he had bionic hearing," he said.

The jury retired to consider its verdicts about 1pm Thursday.

They will return on Friday to continue deliberating.

This story was found at: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/nothing-innocent-about-visit-to-sex-offenders-home-prosecutors-say-20171206-h00a7t.html