NT Police Withdraw Child Rape Charges Against 24-Year-Old Man
Police have defended their decision to arrest the man after an alleged incident earlier this year.
What you need to know
- A toddler was allegedly raped in Tennant Creek on February 15
- A 24-year-old man was originally charged, but police dropped those charges this week due to "new evidence"
- A 25-year-old man was charged on Monday over the alleged sexual assault
Northern Territory police have defended their decision to arrest a 24-year-old man over the alleged rape of a two-year-old girl earlier this year, despite dropping charges against him on Thursday.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Tony Fuller fronted media in Darwin, and said the evidence at the time was substantial enough to charge the man, but new evidence during the course of the investigation led to those charges being withdrawn.
Police allege the toddler was sexually assaulted in Tennant Creek on February 15.
A second man aged 25 was charged with sexually assaulting the girl earlier this week, after new evidence came to light, police said.
When asked whether an innocent man had been jailed for three months, Fuller said, "That matter has not been finalised."
"We stand by the original arrest, it was made on evidence at the time, and it goes to show that we do not stop an investigation because someone has been under arrest. We consider all the evidence and as a result of that... the charges were withdrawn."
He said the reason the charges were dropped "will come out in due course," but the decision was made after consultation with the accused's legal representatives and with prosecutors.
When asked whether the 24-year-old could face different charges, Fuller said police "are not stopping the investigation at this stage."
He called the circumstances of the case "complex," involving vulnerable witnesses and persons involved with alcohol, and denied the arrest was a "bungle" or was "rushed on the night."
"It is not as simple as people think," he said.
The 25-year-old man is due to front court July 26.