A father’s years of sexual abuse of his pre-teenage daughter – she said it happened weekly, and sometimes more often – has drawn a seven-year six-month jail term.
The abuse took place in Auckland, in a Pacific Island nation, and Christchurch. It began when the girl was aged 10 and continued until she was 13.
The 49-year-old offender would drink heavily every weekend and smoke cannabis daily. He told police that he had no memory of the years of sexual offending because he had been “too drunk”.
Judge Gary MacAskill said at the Christchurch District Court sentencing: “I don’t believe that’s true. I think you simply don’t want to admit such shameful behaviour.”
However, the judge noted that the man had not accused his daughter of lying, and had pleaded guilty to all the charges: five of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection – digital penetration – and others of doing an indecent on a child and young person, assaulting a child, and assault with a weapon.
Several of the charges were representative, indicating repeated offending. The weapons were a belt and a stick which were used to beat the girl.
The victim can now be referred to as his daughter, after final suppression of his name was granted to protect her identity.
Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier said there had been actual violence against the victim but it had not occurred in the context of the sexual offending. The offending had taken place in the girl’s home where she was entitled to feel safe. It was a breach of trust.
A letter from the victim made disturbing reading because she blamed herself for the disintegration of the family, said Miss Boshier. “It is not her fault, for making a complaint of this nature.”
Defence counsel Serina Bailey said that although she acknowledged that the offending had taken place over a long period and was a breach of trust, the man had otherwise tried to be a good parent by encouraging his children’s education and providing for them.
Judge MacAskill said the man’s degree of physical and emotional control over the girl had contributed to her reluctance to disclose the offending. There had been serious impacts on her which were continuing and were likely to remain indefinitely.
The pre-sentence report said that the nature of the offending and the absence of treatment meant that “the risk of further harm is immense”, said the judge.
He referred to a defence suggestion that physically disciplining children was “a cultural matter”, and commented to the man: “It is no longer a matter that can be taken into account as a significant mitigating factor. You need to comply with the law of New Zealand.
“I am aware that violence and sexual abuse of family members is prevalent in our community. The courts must fulful their role to discourage such conduct by imposing appropriate sentences.”