The jury hearing the trial of a former spa therapist accused of sexually assaulting a client during a treatment has been told that inconsistencies in witness accounts should prompt them to acquit him.
Summing up the defence case of 40-year-old Ajo Dominic, who is accused of removing a woman’s disposable underwear and rubbing oil into her pubic area during a treatment at the Hotel de France in February 2011, Advocate Mark Boothman said that his client denied the allegation.
“Mr Dominic has chosen not to give evidence, as is his right because it is for the prosecution to prove its case, but he did give an account to the police straight after the incident,” he told the Royal Court jury.
Pictured: The case is being heard by a jury in the Royal Court.
“He stated candidly then that he accidentally knocked the towel covering her breasts with his foot. By mentioning this, he was referencing something that did happen and not the removal of pants, which didn’t.
“It was him being honest. He didn’t try to cover tracks or explain why he removed the pants or rubbed oil into her pubic area; he just gave an honest account of what happened.
“It is not for Mr Dominic to prove anything. He does not know the woman and has no idea why she would make it up. Perhaps during the course of massage, he did knock off the towel and she did become upset, leading the complainant to fabricate or exaggerate this allegation.
“Could she have been mistaken and he did knock the towel off? We say it is perfectly possible, and if you have any doubt yourself, you must acquit.”
Advocate Boothman said that her first comment to Mr Dominic after the alleged incident - “this did not happen the first time”, in reference to her receiving the same treatment from him nine months earlier - was not the reaction of someone who had just been seriously assaulted.
He also highlighted what he said were inconsistencies in witness statements given to the police at the time and evidence spoken in court, and questioned why the woman had let Mr Dominic complete the treatment after the alleged assault by placing towels on her legs and giving compressions.
In summing up for the prosecution, Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit asked the jury to consider the consistency and clarity of the complainant’s account; what she did and said immediately after the treatment to her sister, hotel staff and the police; and her lack of any credible reason to lie.
“She and her sister had been to the spa on several occasions and she had never had any concerns before. They obviously enjoyed their visits there and the complainant had had the same treatment in May 2010, with the defendant,” he said.
“She described him then as pleasant and very professional and she was obviously looking forward to a second treatment with him.
“So, what happened in that 55-minute session in February 2011 to dramatically change her opinion of the defendant?
“The Crown says that there is one unavoidable conclusion: she was subject to the grossly indecent behaviour which is alleged.
“If she had made it up, she then lied to her sister, the very person she shared the afternoon with. She also lied to the spa manager and duty manager, and then made a false statement to the police, for which she could be liable to prosecution.
“She pursued the same line when the police contacted her last year and then lied on oath and perjured herself during this trial. Really? For what?
“She has nothing to gain by making false allegations but at least something to gain by pursuing the truth.”
Pictured: The Crown Advocate said the alleged victim would have "nothing to gain" by making up a false allegation and telling police.
After he gave his statement to the police in 2011, Mr Dominic left the Island to go to his native India and returned to the Island in 2015. However, investigators only became aware of his return in 2020, when he was arrested and charged.
Today, the judge, Commissioner Sir Michael Birt, will sum up the points of law, before the jury of seven men and five women retire to consider their verdict.
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