A former New South Wales police officer is on trial in the Northern Rivers accused of three counts of having aggravated sexual intercourse with a child aged between 14 and 16 years, as well as producing, disseminating or possessing child abuse material and attempting to pervert the course of justice by corrupting a witness.
31-year old senior constable Troy Cridland, who was attached to the Lismore, Richmond District police command in Northern New South Wales, was referred to the police Professional Standards Command in late 2020 after reports he had sexual intercourse with an underage girl in his police car on multiple occasions, and at a police station on at least one occasion, between March and August of 2020.
He is also accused of using the teen to create produce abuse material, sharing nude photos with her and of asking her mother to give false evidence to a police investigation.
He was arrested in early December 2021 and initially refused bail.
However, he was released from custody on 21 December 2021 after his criminal defence lawyers made a successful bail application based on claims threats had been made against their client in custody.
The trial commenced before a jury in Lismore District Court on 22 May 2023.
DNA, CCTV and complainant evidence
The Crown is relying on DNA evidence it says was found on a mattress inside a tent in the police station's garage, as well as CCTV footage of the couple, communications between the pair in the form of social media exchanges and the testimony of the complainant.
Mr Cridland maintains his innocence in the face of the allegations as the trial continues.
Prior to the allegations surfacing, he was a decorated officer who was honoured with police district medals and awards.
The offence of aggravated sexual intercourse with a child between 14 and 16
Aggravated sexual intercourse with a child aged at least 14 and less than16 years is an offence under section 66C(4) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which carries a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison.
To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- You had sexual intercourse with a child aged between 14 and 16,
- You knew or were reckless as to the age of the child, or you had no reasonable grounds to believe the child was under the age of consent which is 16 years of age in NSW, and
- You did so in 'circumstances of aggravation'.
'Sexual intercourse' is defined as:
- The penetration to any extent of a female's genitalia, or the anus of any person, by any part of, or object used by, another person,
- The introduction of a penis into the mouth of another person,
- Cunnilingus, or
- The continuation of any of these activities.
'Circumstances of aggravation' are where:
- At the time of, or immediately before or after your conduct you intentionally or recklessly inflicted actual bodily harm on the complainant or another person present or nearby,
- At the time of, or immediately before or after your conduct you threatened to inflict actual harm on the complainant, or another person present or nearby by means of an offensive weapon or instrument,
- You were in the company of another person or persons,
- The complainant was under your authority,
- The complainant had a serious physical disability,
- The complainant had a cognitive impairment,
- You took advantage of the complainant being under the influence,
- Before or after your conduct you deprived the complainant of his or her liberty, or
- You broke into a dwelling-house or other building intending to commit a 'serious indictable offence', which is an offence carrying a maximum penalty of at least 5 years in prison.
'Actual bodily harm' is that which is more than 'transient or trifling' and includes lasting scratches, bruises and abrasions.
You were 'reckless' if you foresaw the possibility of inflicting actual bodily harm but went ahead with your actions regardless.
An 'offensive weapon or instrument' is:
- A dangerous weapon,
- Anything made or adapted for offensive purposes, or
- Anything used, intended for use or threatened to be used for offensive purposes, even though it is not ordinarily used for such purposes, or ordinarily capable of causing harm.
A 'dangerous weapon' is:
- A firearm or imitation firearm,
- A prohibited weapon, or
- A spear gun.
Duress is a defence to the charge.
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