Home detention for 86-year-old sex offender

Twenty years after doing a “deal” with the family of his victims when they confronted him about indecencies with two small girls, a Christchurch man has faced sentencing for his crimes in the District Court.

The 86-year-old man, Errol Varde Nikolaison, has admitted nine charges of indecent acts on girls aged under 12 years. He has not sought name suppression at the sentencing.

Offending against the first girl began when she was aged three, and went on for seven years, and then continued with the other girl.

In 1993 the family of the girls confronted the man about his indecencies and told him that unless he stopped offending and did a Stop programme for sex offenders, they would go to the police.

Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish noted that he then complied fully with the “deal”, stopping the offending and doing the rehabilitation programme.

His defence counsel James Rapley said Nikolaison had admitted the offending to friends, family, and his church, in 1993. He had done the rehabilitation but nothing had been done for the two victims at the time.

“The victims were left out of it,” said Mr Rapley. The victims were now adults who had decided to deal with the matter by making formal complaints, as they were entitled to do.

Although he urged that a home detention sentence be imposed, Mr Rapley told Judge Farish: “He apologises. He’s remorseful. He fully accepts that he needs to be punished. He realises imprisonment is often the punishment for this sort of crime, and he is prepared for that.”

Prosecutor Sara Jamieson said the Crown accepted that no personal deterrence was now required for Nikolaison because he was no longer seen as a risk to society. But she noted that the offending had had a significant impact on the girls and its effects had continued into their adult lives.

Judge Farish said Nikolaison’s risk of offending was now seen as so low that he was not eligible to attend another Stop programme. A safety plan to ensure he did not have unsupervised contact with children under 16 was recommended.

She noted that Nikolaison had a conviction for a similar offence in 1964 when he had received a sentence of four months’ imprisonment.

She said she would reduce his jail sentence because of his guilty pleas, his age, and his frail health. It would be likely he would serve jail time in the prison hospital if he were imprisoned. She had to consider whether a jail term would be too harsh or injurious.

There was a gasp from the victims’ family members in the public gallery as she decided she could impose a term of 10 months’ home detention at a Christchurch address, with a condition that he arrange a new safety plan to ensure he had no unsupervised contact with children under 16.

She described his offending as “gross and appalling”, which had caused significant and permanent harm to the women.

“They are lifelong scars that will not go away because it started when they were so young. I don’t imagine they will ever be able to forgive you,” said the judge.

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