Nine-year jail term for rape by prisoner

October 30, 2015 | By More
File image. © Andrew Bardwell

File image. © Andrew Bardwell

Second-strike offender Vernon Neil Bugden will have to serve all of the nine-year jail term imposed today for a rape he committed while a serving prisoner on work release.

At the time of the rape, 35-year-old Bugden was nearing the end of a two-year, eight-month jail term for wounding with intent to injure.

That was imposed at a 2012 sentencing where he received a first-strike warning under the system that imposes heavier penalties on serious violent offenders.

He pleaded guilty last month to three charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and one charge of rape, all on the same woman.

That led to another sentencing today where an unusual second-strike warning was given and Bugden was told that he would serve all of the sentence imposed by Christchurch District Court Judge Paul Kellar without parole or early release.

Judge Kellar warned him that if he committed a third-strike offence of serious violence, he would have to be sentenced to the maximum term of imprisonment for that offence and would serve it without parole or early release.

At the request of the victim, the contents of the victim impact statement she read to the sentencing session by video-link from a city outside Christchurch, were suppressed.

Crown prosecutor Kathy Basire said aggravating factors took the case beyond the normal eight-year starting point for a rape sentence, before adjustments were made.

She said it had happened in the context of a controlling and violent relationship, and Bugden had threatened the victim after the rape took place. It also took place while Bugden was serving a prison sentence.

Defence counsel Andrew Bailey urged that at least a 15 percent reduction in the sentence be allowed by the judge because of Bugden’s guilty plea, even though the plea was entered only about 10 days before the scheduled trial. It meant the complainant did not have to give evidence at a trial.

Judge Kellar said the offence took place while Bugden was on a work to release programme at a waste water plant on the outskirts of Christchurch.

Bugden got the woman to visit him while he was at the workplace, to bring him food and a cellphone which he kept in a locker there, and the pair had consensual sex.

On May 3, 2014, the two argued at the workplace and the woman tried to leave. As she went to get in her car, Bugden pushed her onto the backseat where he violated and raped her. “See, you do love me,” he told her when the rape was over, and then threatened her.

The woman had suffered profound harm from the relationship and the offending, the judge said. He said the woman had “bravely read her victim impact statement to the court”.

He increased Bugden’s sentence because of convictions for violent offending dating back to 2003 including assault, assaulting a woman, injuring, and wounding, as well as a conviction for doing an indecent act. Some of his violence involved three other former partners.

A pre-sentence report said Bugden’s controlling behaviour showed an entrenched sense of entitlement and willingness to use violence to get what he wanted.

His guilty plea had spared the victim the additional trauma of having to give evidence. Judge Kellar reduced the jail term because of that.

Category: Focus

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