A father accused of taking part in a gang rape at his Canberra unit says he told the alleged ringleader, “This girl has to go, man – it’s not right, she’s no animal”.
Josefa Navunisinu Masivesi, 45, is on trial in the ACT Supreme Court along with co-accused Simon Vunilagi, 25-year-old Ratu Jone Pio Macanawai, and 22-year-old Isimeli Ilimeleki Natuwawa Vatanitawake.
On Tuesday, Mr Masivesi gave evidence in the trial. He said he didn’t even kiss the alleged victim on the cheek, let alone rape her.
“I would have stopped the party straight away and sent [my co-accused] home [if I’d known she had wanted to leave],” he said.
The Canberra father has pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape and one act of indecency, while Mr Macanawai has also denied two rape charges, and Mr Vatanitawake has pleaded not guilty to one.
Prosecutors say Mr Vunilagi, a former rugby union player, was the ringleader of the attack. He has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of rape and one act of indecency.
Mr Masivesi told the court the alleged victim had eyes for Mr Vatanitawake all night – and he’d know, he said, being a man in his 40s.
He said he remembered that after they left the club, Mr Vunilagi asked him if it was OK for him to take the girl back to his unit. He said he agreed, and assumed the young woman and Mr Vunilagi would have sex.
Mr Masivesi said once at the unit, Mr Vunilagi and the young woman were in his bedroom with the door closed. He said he turned on Fijian music to cover up “sex sounds” for the neighbours’ benefit, before the bedroom door opened and the young woman called for Mr Vatanitawake.
The alleged victim says the 22-year-old came in after an invitation by Mr Vunilagi, and Mr Macanawai followed. She says Mr Masivesi came into the bedroom and raped her too.
On Tuesday, Mr Masivesi said he only went into the bedroom once to get a charger.
He said he asked Mr Vunilagi, “What if this was your sister?” only because he wanted the young woman to leave, but prosecutor Skye Jerome said he told police Mr Vunilagi was “touching up” the alleged victim on a lounge.
Ms Jerome said: “You told police: ‘I tried to stop him and he tried to push us away.'”
“I suggest that you are lying to this court to save yourself.”
Under cross-examination by Mr Vunilagi’s barrister Katrina Musgrove, Mr Masivesi agreed he only said something to Mr Vunilagi after the young woman walked from the room for the last time and he realised she wanted to leave.
Ms Musgove asked Mr Masivesi: “If you saw a young lady in trouble … you would step in to assist her?”
He answered: “That’s correct.”
Barrister Steven Whybrow, who is representing Mr Masivesi, called to the witness stand a diplomat from the Fijian High Commission in Canberra, to serve as a character witness for his client.
The man attested to Mr Masivesi’s reliable and loving nature, and said the 45-year-old would not cheat on his wife.
The trial continues.