Kyle Daniels’ defence team has pointed the finger at police and media reports for influencing evidence he sexually touched nine underage girls.
Mr Daniels, 24, is accused of abusing the girls in his role as a swimming teacher at Mosman Swimming Centre on Sydney’s North Shore between 2018 and 2019.
Many of the complainants in the case came forward after Mr Daniels was arrested at his parents’ home in Balgowlah on March 12, 2019.
During his closing statement on Monday, defence barrister Leslie Nichols said footage showing Mr Daniels in handcuffs “presented a negative image in the public”.
“That image and the subsequent media reporting was a significant factor in the parents questioning their children,” Mr Nichols told the court.
Mr Daniels pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual intercourse with a child aged under 10, eight counts of sexual touching of a child and eight counts of indecent assault, including two considered alternative charges.
Mr Nichols questioned why police took the steps of handcuffing Mr Daniels and “parading” him down the road from his parents’ house in front of a police media unit.
He asserted Mr Daniels was deliberately handcuffed despite being compliant with police, to make the arrest “newsworthy”.
“Why wouldn’t you go get the car and bring it up outside the house? Was it arranged that he was going to be taken all the way down that road? I say yes,” Mr Nichols told the court.
“That’s what this was about. So the police could give that news footage to the media … with a view to having an appeal for further victims.”
Following the arrest, several more complainants came forward with allegations against Mr Daniels.
In most cases the allegations followed parents approaching their children to ask if Mr Daniels had done anything to them.
“It’s clear that the parents were influenced by what they saw in the media. It caused all of them anxiety and concern for their children,” Mr Nichols told the court.
“Being so influenced, they then influenced their children in the way that they questioned them, raising ‘he’s done something bad – he’s hurt children’.
“The media footage … had a real practical effect on the unreliability and influence of the complainants.”
In summing up the nearly two-month trial, Mr Nichols also questioned the feasibility of Mr Daniels being able to perform some of the alleged acts in a time frame of just a few seconds.
He noted at the time of the alleged offences, the girls would have been swimming, kicking their legs and in some instances diving into the pool.
Mr Nichols said some of the alleged “touching” may have actually been “entirely consistent with the accused holding his hands on the hips which is an approved corrective position”.
“It’s often impossible to prove your innocence. The Crown has the onus of proving the elements beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
“The Crown must establish not only that the complainants were touched in the manner specified, but as that the accused knew and deliberately touched the private parts of the complainants.
“A not-guilty verdict should be returned for each and every count that is before you.”
The jury is expected to commence deliberation on a verdict from Tuesday.