Court hears of homeless sexual encounter

City Centre sign-01A judge has remanded a man for a possible restorative justice meeting with a 14-year-old sex victim even though he says it “doesn’t make sense”.

Christchurch District Court Judge Alistair Garland accepted that the meeting was unlikely because of the girl’s age, but he said, “Under normal circumstances, it doesn’t make sense but the law requires me to do it.”

A law change brought in last year means that judges must remand cases for consideration of a restorative justice meeting between the offender and victim, whenever there is an identifiable victim.

The meeting will be considered while 32-year-old Shannon James Sullivan is on bail awaiting sentence for performing a sex act with a 14-year-old girl who was hanging around with the homeless community in central Christchurch.

Sullivan met the girl through friends in the city’s homeless community last year, Judge Alistair Garland was told in the Christchurch District Court yesterday when Sullivan pleaded guilty to the charge of sexual connection with a young person.

Sullivan knew the girl for a short time and was told that she was aged 14.

They met at Latimer Square where there was free food being given to the homeless and then spent several hours roaming the central city.

About 2am, they were at an abandoned building site on High Street where Sullivan had been staying.

They began cuddling as they lay under a blanket, before they began kissing, and then Sullivan penetrated the girl with his finger. The intimacy ended when one of the other people sleeping nearby woke up.

Sullivan said he did not know the girl was aged under 16 and assumed she was older because she was hanging around the streets. The intimacy was consensual, he said.

Judge Garland gave Sullivan a first strike warning that imposes heavier penalties on repeat violent and sexual offenders, and ordered a pre-sentence report to consider his suitability for a home detention term.


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