Dunning sexual assault case starts



THE transcript of a taped telephone conversation was used to launch the sexual assault case against former Central Queensland Ports Authority chairman Ross Dunning yesterday.

Dunning yesterday pleaded not guilty in Gladstone District Court to three charges of indecent assault, alleged to have occurred between March and July 3, 1968 in his Byrne Street home.

During the first day of the trial, the 52-year-old complainant took the stand to described Dunning's alleged assault on him.

The court heard the complainant rang Dunning in September 2004 demanding an apology to the indecent assaults while police recorded the conversation.

Crown Prosecutor Brendan Campbell read from a transcript of the phone conversation, submitting it was an admission by Dunning to the offences and the main evidence of Dunning allegedly indecently assaulting the then 14-year-old boy.

"Ross, I've been having a few emotional problems lately and I think it stems back to when I was a young child and I was sexually abused," Mr Campbell read. "By you."

The conversation continued again an hour later and the complainant asked for an apology and admission for the incidents. Dunning apolo gised for any offence he may have caused the complainant and asked "Is this conversation private?" before giving what Mr Campbell cited as a clear admission to the indecent assualts.

"Are you apologising for sexually assaulting me?" the complainant said, according to Mr Campbell.

"Well, in those terms... I guess... Yes." Dunning responded.

The court heard the alleged assaults occurred when the boy was sleeping over at the home of Dunning, a family friend.

Dunning allegedly performed oral sex on the boy in the first two instances, forming the first two charges.

Mr Campbell claimed the complainant was woken by the accused during the sex act.

Mr Campbell said nothing was said by either Dunning or the boy on the first occasion estimated to be in March 1968. On the second alleged instance, Mr Campbell said the boy told Dunning "stop it", rolled away and pushed Dunning's head away with his arms.

On the third alleged instance, the boy stayed at the home while his family was out of town visiting a sick relative. The next morning, on July 3, Dunning told the boy his sick grandfather had died and sat on the edge of his bed speaking to him.

Mr Campbell claimed Dunning put his hand on the boy's genitals and fondled him through the boy's clothes. The boy told him not to, stood up and turned away.

He never spoke of the alleged incidents until a police officer rang him thirty-six years later.

Police were investigating as a result of a complaint made by the complainant's brother.