Indefinite jail term after offending spanning 30 years

A West Coast man with a history of sex offending spanning 30 years has been jailed under an open-ended preventive detention sentence, in the High Court at Christchurch.

Gary Leonard Jones, now aged 64, will not be considered for release for five years and will then only be released if he is assessed as posing no risk.

In the meantime, he has to do an alcohol rehabilitation course in prison and the Kia Marama course for child sex offenders – for the second time.

Justice Cameron Mander noted that a health assessor described Jones as having “an entrenched and enduring sexual deviance” and he was a persistent and serial sex offender.

Crown prosecutor Will Taffs sought the preventive detention term to ensure that Jones no longer posed a risk to the community on his release. Jones had been on parole after serving 13 years in prison at the time of his latest offending which involved doing an indecent act on a child under 12.

Defence counsel Marcus Zintl said that Jones was willing to undergo the treatment programmes and was willing to accept a five-year jail term to avoid a preventive detention term. The five-year term would allow time for the necessary courses to be completed.

Mr Zintl said a preventive detention term would be “disproportionately severe”.

Jones has seven previous convictions for sexual offending. He was jailed in 1986 for a rape committed when he was heavily intoxicated.

He received a periodic detention sentence – now known as community work – and supervision for an indecent assault in 1994, again when he was heavily intoxicated.

He was jailed again in 2003 for offending against a woman and a child, again associated with heavy drinking.

In 2006, he received a 15-year term for offending against two victims, including the rape of a woman. At his sentencing, Justice Lester Chisholm gave him a final warning that preventive detention could be imposed for any further offending.

He was released in 2014, and the latest offence occurred in 2017, while he was on parole and subject to conditions about not consuming alcohol or having contact with children. He had lied to his probation officer about the extent of his drinking.

After a drinking bout, he touched a pre-teen girl’s genitals for 10 to 15 seconds, over her pyjamas, as she lay in bed and in spite of the girl’s protests.

He said he had no recollection of the incident because of his intoxication, and he accepted that the girl would not have lied. But he still pleaded not guilty which meant the girl had to give evidence at trial, where he was convicted.

The girl was left bewildered and had difficulty sleeping without her mother being present.

Justice Mander noted that Jones’ latest offending occurred despite his previous sentences, his completion of the Kia Marama course, and in breach of the safety plan. He had continued to offend even at his advanced age.

He told Jones a preventive detention term was necessary because he presented an on-going risk to the community, particularly young girls. He imposed a five-year non-parole term before he can be considered for release, gave him a first strike warning, and ordered his registration as a child sex offender.