Child sex abuse victim will be ‘haunted forever’

A woman says she will be “haunted forever” after learning that there was a second victim of Sidney John Hurst’s child sexual abuse.

A jury accepted that the woman was raped by Hurst in the 1950s when she was aged eight or younger.

Hurst, now aged 78, was in the dock in the High Court at Christchurch as she read her victim impact statement at his sentencing on eight charges.

The woman is now in her 60s. Hurst was a teenager when the rape happened.

She told Justice David Gendall the offending – which also included indecent assaults over years – had been her secret for decades. She had thought that not talking about it and putting it to the back of her mind might make it go away.

“I was scared that if I told someone what was happening to me they would not believe me, think I was trying to cause trouble, or just being naughty by making this up,” she said.

She had insomnia and nightmares. “I feared that my inaction might lead to further abuse of young girls. The fact that there was another victim will haunt me forever.”

The other victim, now in her 50s, was tearful as she described how she believed her life would have been very different without the childhood abuse. She had suffered from post traumatic stress disorder which had impacted on her financially, socially, and emotionally.

She said she had become cold, aloof, and prickly. She resorted to social isolation as a way to survive. She turned to alcohol to try to cope.

Hurst had denied the offending at an eight-day trial in the High Court in Christchurch in April, but a jury found him guilty on all charges.

The offending related to two girls – six charges involving one of them and two charges for the other – between 1955 and 1975. One woman told of offending as far back as 1955 and the other alleged offending dating back to 1967.

Some of the charges were so old that they had to be brought under the 1908 Crimes Act rather than the current legislation.

Hurst denied raping one of the girls and repeatedly indecently assaulting both girls when one was aged up to 13 years and the other aged up to 14. He continues to deny the offending.

Crown prosecutor Deidre Orchard said the offending had involved “grossly indecent conduct” and the rape of a small child. The man had lived out most of his life unaffected by his offending, but the same could not be said for his victims.

Defence counsel Pip Hall QC said it was accepted imprisonment was the only possible sentence. He urged that the sentence be kept as short as possible because of Hurst’s age – a long jail term was “likely to be life imprisonment”.

Justice Gendall said he had to consider the sentencing levels that applied at the time of the offending. He also had to have regard to the effects on the victims, who had courageously read moving statements to the court. The statements were “troubling” and made chilling reading.

He said sentencing levels had changed dramatically since the 1960s and 1970s, but attitudes to denunciation and deterrence had not changed.

He imposed a series of jail sentences totalling seven years, which included a reduction for his age. He will be registered as a child sex offender.

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