18 years’ jail for sex abuse of five girls

Still staunchly defiant, a 51-year-old man has been jailed for 18 years for the sexual abuse of five girls when they were aged between four and fourteen years.

Just before his Christchurch District Court sentencing, the man sent a letter to the judge reaffirming his denial of everything, and refusing to acknowledge any remorse or contrition.

The man had denied 33 charges at a Christchurch trial in August. His defence was that the offending just never happened.

The jury convicted him on 28 of the charges after an 11-day hearing. It returned guilty verdicts on charges of indecent assault, indecent acts, sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, and rape.

Guilty verdicts were delivered involving all five of the girls – now teenagers or adults – who gave evidence by video-link or from behind a screen in court, during the trial before Judge Alistair Garland.

Some of the details of the evidence, including the location of the offending, has been suppressed during the trial and at the sentencing. The man was granted final suppression to protect the identity of the girls.

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said the offending against two of the girls had involved premeditation and planning. The girls were vulnerable because of their young ages. The harm caused had been significant. One had been left with severe anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and another had self-harmed, and they had been left depressed and wary in public. One reported turning to alcohol and drugs, and having relationship difficulties.

The trial was told that the man had gone overseas for six years after changing his name and getting a passport after the police investigation began. He was returned to New Zealand after being convicted of possessing child exploitation material. He had also served an eight-year jail term in Australia for drug importation.

A psychologist’s report ahead of the sentencing said the man required “extensive treatment” to understand the factors underlying his propensity to commit further offending.

Defence counsel Peter Kaye said there was no need to prolong the sentencing process by referring the case to the High Court for preventive detention to be considered. Without preventive detention being imposed, the jail term would mean that the man was not considered for release until he was in his mid-to-late 60s.

He urged the judge not to impose a sentence so long that it excluded the man of any hope of a meaningful life in the community in the future.

Judge Garland said the man had done “unmeasurable harm” to the girls. The man’s risk of offending against young people was assessed as high. A rehabilitation programme was vital for his future, and for the safety of the community.

It was difficult to say whether alcohol or drugs had played a role in the offending because the man had refused to discuss anything about the offending in his pre-sentence interview with a probation officer.

Describing the man’s offending as predatory and his conduct as degrading, the judge imposed jail terms amounting to 18 years with an order that he cannot be considered for release until he has served 10 years. He will be registered as a child sex offender.

The man will not receive treatment in prison while he continues to deny the offending.