Jury trial: Alleged violence, assaults, behind the 'perfect type of family'

Claims of headlocks, threats to life and assaults on children are at the centre of a trial involving a prominent couple.

Crown prosecutor Geraldine Kelly told a jury in her opening submissions at the Hamilton District Court this morning, the couple presented themselves as "the perfect type of family" that some people thought "lived the perfect lifestyle".

"But reality was different," she said.

Neither the accused or his estranged wife can be named due to heavy suppressions put in place, primarily to protect their children.

The man is defending six charges - three charges of assaulting a female on three occasions between December 2013 and May 2014, a representative charge of threatening to kill between May 2013 and May 2014, assaulting a child between January 2014 and May 2014 and sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection between May 2013 and May 2014.

But co-defence counsel Emma Priest said the defence was simple: The allegations were all lies and were the result of a "divorce gone wrong".

In her openings to the jury, Kelly said the defendant was controlling and abusive within the family.

"The abuse was targeted primarily at his wife but also his children. And it wasn't just verbal abuse. It was physical abuse as well."

It is alleged in one of the assaults that after arguing, the defendant put the complainant in a headlock and pushed her to the ground.

Kelly said the complainant visited her doctor the next day due to neck pain, and pictures were taken of scratches and marks around the area.

There were also claims of the man threatening to kill the complainant on several occasions during a 12-month period.

The assaulting a child charge was alleged to have occurred while the defendant was potty training the child.

He's accused of yelling at their daughter and hitting her twice on the bottom, while her siblings looked on.

"The defendant left [child] on the toilet and went into the lounge. He left [child] hunched over the toilet, upset, sobbing and made [sisters] effectively hold [child] sitting on that toilet.

"At this time [child] was so tired that she was being supported by her sisters so that she didn't fall asleep and fall forward. [Child's] bottom was red after this incident and she wouldn't use the toilet thereafter for a period of time."

However, Priest said the "defence case was clear".

"This is a frightening example of a divorce gone wrong ... make no mistake, the defence case is that these allegations have been fabricated, made up by [complainant] to destroy [defendant], to take his children, to take his money ... so that he has nothing.

"It is shocking, it is tragic, it is [defendant's] life at stake.

"The defence is sadly that [complainant] has not only fabricated these charges ... but that she has poisoned their children against their father."

Priest urged the jury to keep that in mind when assessing the evidence to be given by the complainant and two of their children.

"Credibility or truthfulness is essential. It's not a question of who do you believe, but can you believe her."

The trial, overseen by Judge Philip Connell, continues with the complainant first to give evidence.