Jailed for indecent assault on sleeping woman

A man’s indecent assault of a woman was close to a sexual violation for which he could have faced a prison term of up to 20 years, a Gisborne District Court judge warned.

David Henry Walker was 40 when he committed the offence last year against a woman about 10 years his junior.

Walker took advantage of finding the woman asleep and for several minutes ran his hands under her clothing including in the area of her genitals.

The woman awoke during the incident but was so shocked she froze and pretended to be asleep, the court was told.

Walker stopped when he heard someone approaching.

The woman fled.

Questioned by police soon afterwards, Walker admitted the offending, saying he did not know why he did it and that it was “dumb”.

Judge Warren Cathcart imposed 18 months imprisonment with six months standard and special release conditions. Walker had already received the mandatory three-strikes warning at a previous hearing on the charge.

The judge granted leave to apply for home detention, citing Walker’s early admission and genuine remorse as rarities among such offenders.

Walker initially refused to consent to inquiries being made about the suitability of his address for an electronically-monitored sentence. He told authorities he did not want to put his family through the process because of his stupid actions.

However, another address might now become available.

Police opposed leave being granted for Walker to serve the sentence in the community, prosecutor Claire Stewart pointing to the profound effect of the offending on the victim.

In a statement for the court the woman said it had affected her life with her partner and family. She had since lost trust in people, particularly men. It had also affected her career pursuits.

Determining the length of the prison term, the judge said setting a starting point in indecent assault cases was always difficult due to the wide-ranging circumstances. Accordingly, there was no tariff case to guide the courts.

Courts generally relied on an assessment of the type of touching that occurred and the idiosyncratic combination of unusual features.

This case was near the top end of indecent assaults, falling just short of an offence of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection. Aggravating features here included the inherent vulnerability of the sleeping woman, the persistence shown by Walker in continuing the assault for several minutes and his attempt to penetrate her.

Given that and the harm caused to the complainant, a starting point of 24 months was appropriate, the judge said.

To that nominal start point, the judge added a month’s uplift for a separate breach of community work, on which Walker was also appearing for sentence and which he also admitted, with discounts of one month for Walker’s remorse in relation to the indecent assault, and a full 25 percent for his guilty pleas.

■ The offender named in this article is not the lawyer of a similar name employed by Burnard Bull and Co, Solicitors.

A man’s indecent assault of a woman was close to a sexual violation for which he could have faced a prison term of up to 20 years, a Gisborne District Court judge warned.

David Henry Walker was 40 when he committed the offence last year against a woman about 10 years his junior.

Walker took advantage of finding the woman asleep and for several minutes ran his hands under her clothing including in the area of her genitals.

The woman awoke during the incident but was so shocked she froze and pretended to be asleep, the court was told.

Walker stopped when he heard someone approaching.

The woman fled.

Questioned by police soon afterwards, Walker admitted the offending, saying he did not know why he did it and that it was “dumb”.

Judge Warren Cathcart imposed 18 months imprisonment with six months standard and special release conditions. Walker had already received the mandatory three-strikes warning at a previous hearing on the charge.

The judge granted leave to apply for home detention, citing Walker’s early admission and genuine remorse as rarities among such offenders.

Walker initially refused to consent to inquiries being made about the suitability of his address for an electronically-monitored sentence. He told authorities he did not want to put his family through the process because of his stupid actions.

However, another address might now become available.

Police opposed leave being granted for Walker to serve the sentence in the community, prosecutor Claire Stewart pointing to the profound effect of the offending on the victim.

In a statement for the court the woman said it had affected her life with her partner and family. She had since lost trust in people, particularly men. It had also affected her career pursuits.

Determining the length of the prison term, the judge said setting a starting point in indecent assault cases was always difficult due to the wide-ranging circumstances. Accordingly, there was no tariff case to guide the courts.

Courts generally relied on an assessment of the type of touching that occurred and the idiosyncratic combination of unusual features.

This case was near the top end of indecent assaults, falling just short of an offence of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection. Aggravating features here included the inherent vulnerability of the sleeping woman, the persistence shown by Walker in continuing the assault for several minutes and his attempt to penetrate her.

Given that and the harm caused to the complainant, a starting point of 24 months was appropriate, the judge said.

To that nominal start point, the judge added a month’s uplift for a separate breach of community work, on which Walker was also appearing for sentence and which he also admitted, with discounts of one month for Walker’s remorse in relation to the indecent assault, and a full 25 percent for his guilty pleas.

■ The offender named in this article is not the lawyer of a similar name employed by Burnard Bull and Co, Solicitors.

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