Man jailed 12 years for abuse

Gisborne Courthouse. File picture by Rebecca Grunwell

A MAN who sexually abused four young female relatives and physically assaulted another was yesterday sentenced to 12 years jail, with a minimum 50 percent non-parole period.

The offending was shocking, Judge Warren Cathcart said in Gisborne District Court.

It was a “tsunami of abuse” that began in the 1990s and resumed in about 2007, despite the man knowing he was on the radar of police and other authorities, who suspected the earlier incidents.

Charges were five of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, eight of indecent assault, one of attempted sexual violation by rape and three of assault.

The man appeared by AV link and the judge granted permanent name suppression in the interests of the victims. His name will, however, be added to a national register of child sex offenders and he will accordingly be subject, on release, to monitoring.

A three strikes warning was issued in relation to the most recent victim, against whom some of the sexual offending occurred after the introduction of that legislation.

Part of the sentence for the earliest offending was calculated in line with lesser penalties that applied at the time.

The judge set a global starting point of 15 years and applied discount of 20 percent for the guilty pleas, the only mitigating factor.

The man was still largely in denial, the judge said. The court heard all the victims were related to him or were close family friends.

1990s offending

The 1990s offending, which was later disclosed to police, was against three girls aged between four and 10.

While not reported at the time, police and Child, Youth and Family (as it was then) became aware of allegations.

The man knew he was under suspicion but, despite that, began offending again about 2007, targeting another young relative living in the same house.

He began to try to have intercourse when she was only five and committed unlawful sexual connection with her.

The offending continued for about eight years and ruined her life, the girl told the court.

She did not report it out of concern for her nanny, the man’s mother, with whom she was living.

She did not want her nan to have to choose between them, the girl said.

By the age of 12 she was having behavioural problems at school, was self-harming and suicidal.

She was later referred by her school to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Staff visited her home. But she could not say anything, as the man was always there.

He threatened to “smash” her, told her it was all her fault and that they would both get into trouble.

She was afraid of him. She had witnessed him being cruel to other children in the family and to animals.

She did not know right from wrong or that what he was doing was wrong. It was not until health classes at school when she was older that she realised it.

She finally told her father and he believed her when a cousin confirmed it.

Flashbacks

Suffering flashbacks and nightmares in which she would wake up thinking the man was on top of her, she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the girl said.

Judge Cathcart said that statement read to the court by the now-teenager showed the horrific nature of the offending and typified the profound effect it had on all the victims.

The man’s offending also included a propensity for general violence, as borne out in three charges he admitted of assault against another young woman. That involved him punching her about the body, including in the head and stomach.

The aggravating features were self-evident. All victims were vulnerable by their age and the age difference of the man to them, which ranged from a 15-year gap to a 30-year one.

There was a significant breach of trust. All victims were family or considered as such.

The man’s mindset was clearly that of someone who had a propensity for sexually abusing young girls in his family. He was not deterred by the knowledge that authorities suspected him, the judge said.

Counsel Alistair Clarke said the case was a difficult brief for a lawyer.

He agreed with the Crown’s approach to sentencing as submitted to the court by prosecutor Christopher Gullidge, but he submitted the offence sat within the lower end of band two of a tariff case, not the middle.

The guilty pleas, though late, had come after significant pre-trial issues had been worked through. It had spared the victims from giving evidence.

Mr Clarke argued against the minimum non-parole period, saying the extensive term of imprisonment alone could sufficiently address concerns such as public safety.

Significant psychological work would be undertaken with the man while on sentence and the parole board would assess the risk around his release.

Mr Clarke referred the judge to a report into the man’s relevant personal background and upbringing, which showed his childhood included exposure to substances and violence to which he had become desensitised.

He was not clear about boundaries, had low self-worth and diminished confidence. He had not had intimate relationships with other adults and struggled to form social connections.

Judge Cathcart agreed with Mr Clarke that the report, though very sad reading, could not in any way justify the offending.

A MAN who sexually abused four young female relatives and physically assaulted another was yesterday sentenced to 12 years jail, with a minimum 50 percent non-parole period.

The offending was shocking, Judge Warren Cathcart said in Gisborne District Court.

It was a “tsunami of abuse” that began in the 1990s and resumed in about 2007, despite the man knowing he was on the radar of police and other authorities, who suspected the earlier incidents.

Charges were five of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, eight of indecent assault, one of attempted sexual violation by rape and three of assault.

The man appeared by AV link and the judge granted permanent name suppression in the interests of the victims. His name will, however, be added to a national register of child sex offenders and he will accordingly be subject, on release, to monitoring.

A three strikes warning was issued in relation to the most recent victim, against whom some of the sexual offending occurred after the introduction of that legislation.

Part of the sentence for the earliest offending was calculated in line with lesser penalties that applied at the time.

The judge set a global starting point of 15 years and applied discount of 20 percent for the guilty pleas, the only mitigating factor.

The man was still largely in denial, the judge said. The court heard all the victims were related to him or were close family friends.

1990s offending

The 1990s offending, which was later disclosed to police, was against three girls aged between four and 10.

While not reported at the time, police and Child, Youth and Family (as it was then) became aware of allegations.

The man knew he was under suspicion but, despite that, began offending again about 2007, targeting another young relative living in the same house.

He began to try to have intercourse when she was only five and committed unlawful sexual connection with her.

The offending continued for about eight years and ruined her life, the girl told the court.

She did not report it out of concern for her nanny, the man’s mother, with whom she was living.

She did not want her nan to have to choose between them, the girl said.

By the age of 12 she was having behavioural problems at school, was self-harming and suicidal.

She was later referred by her school to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Staff visited her home. But she could not say anything, as the man was always there.

He threatened to “smash” her, told her it was all her fault and that they would both get into trouble.

She was afraid of him. She had witnessed him being cruel to other children in the family and to animals.

She did not know right from wrong or that what he was doing was wrong. It was not until health classes at school when she was older that she realised it.

She finally told her father and he believed her when a cousin confirmed it.

Flashbacks

Suffering flashbacks and nightmares in which she would wake up thinking the man was on top of her, she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the girl said.

Judge Cathcart said that statement read to the court by the now-teenager showed the horrific nature of the offending and typified the profound effect it had on all the victims.

The man’s offending also included a propensity for general violence, as borne out in three charges he admitted of assault against another young woman. That involved him punching her about the body, including in the head and stomach.

The aggravating features were self-evident. All victims were vulnerable by their age and the age difference of the man to them, which ranged from a 15-year gap to a 30-year one.

There was a significant breach of trust. All victims were family or considered as such.

The man’s mindset was clearly that of someone who had a propensity for sexually abusing young girls in his family. He was not deterred by the knowledge that authorities suspected him, the judge said.

Counsel Alistair Clarke said the case was a difficult brief for a lawyer.

He agreed with the Crown’s approach to sentencing as submitted to the court by prosecutor Christopher Gullidge, but he submitted the offence sat within the lower end of band two of a tariff case, not the middle.

The guilty pleas, though late, had come after significant pre-trial issues had been worked through. It had spared the victims from giving evidence.

Mr Clarke argued against the minimum non-parole period, saying the extensive term of imprisonment alone could sufficiently address concerns such as public safety.

Significant psychological work would be undertaken with the man while on sentence and the parole board would assess the risk around his release.

Mr Clarke referred the judge to a report into the man’s relevant personal background and upbringing, which showed his childhood included exposure to substances and violence to which he had become desensitised.

He was not clear about boundaries, had low self-worth and diminished confidence. He had not had intimate relationships with other adults and struggled to form social connections.

Judge Cathcart agreed with Mr Clarke that the report, though very sad reading, could not in any way justify the offending.

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