A judge has told Corrections it must work harder to protect a woman from sexual harassment by men doing community work while she completes her own sentence.
The woman’s continuing frustrations brought the case back to the Christchurch District Court today when she tried to have another sentence – such as a fine – imposed instead of the 150 hours of community work she is doing.
Defence counsel Linda Drummond explained that the 26-year-old woman found it difficult to do her community work on days when she was the only woman on the work gang, which travelled together in a van to the work site.
She said a man doing community work had threatened to expose his genitals to the woman, and another had suggested that she do the rest of her community work in a bikini.
The woman is doing a sentence for drink-driving and has so far completed 40 hours of her sentence.
She said she sometimes drove to the start point, but if she could see there were no other women among those in the work gang she just left for the day.
This had led to her being charged with several breaches of her sentence by Corrections.
The breaches have meant she is not regarded as reliable enough to do an agency placement, which means she could work under supervision doing other work away from a work gang.
Judge Raoul Neave considered her application today but decided that she should continue with her community work, rather than be fined instead. The other alternative was a community detention sentence.
However, if problems continue on the work gangs, a fine would be appropriate notwithstanding her history. A fine could be imposed “if Corrections continue to fail to keep her safe from harassment”, he said.
In fairness, he did not want to consider imposing the more serious community detention sentence. “She should not be punished for failures by Corrections.”
If there was more harassment, a new application to review the sentence could be made, he said. “However, there must be some substance to them (the woman’s claims). If they are just devices to avoid the balance of the sentence, a dim view will be taken.”