Fire hero jailed for child sex offending

The bulldozer-driving hero of the Port Hills fires has been jailed for 12 years for child sex offending including rape.

Nikora Martin, 37, continues to deny any offending as he begins the sentence imposed in the Christchurch District Court by Judge Paul Kellar.

But he was found guilty by a jury on nine charges at the end of an eight-day trial in May. He was convicted of six charges of doing an indecent act on a young person, two of rape, and one of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

In early 2017, when the Port Hills were burning, Martin used his bulldozer to cut fire breaks that stopped the fire from spreading and saved several houses. He received a commendation from the police for his “bravery, ingenuity, and community spirit” during the fire emergency.

Judge Kellar reduced the sentence for Martin’s good character. He said the credit for his otherwise clean record was reduced by the long period over which his sex offending occurred.

Defence counsel Simon Shamy said it was difficult to decide what the jury had decided about the scale of the offending, because of the representative charges indicating multiple offences.

He said Martin deserved some credit for his community spirit in putting his own safety at risk to help stop a disaster.

Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier acknowledged the “brave” victim impact reports by the two women who were teenagers when the offending occurred. The women were not in court but were watching the sentencing by video-link.

The charges involved offending on various dates between 2010 and 2016. Martin was found guilty of indecency for kissing and touching one girl from the age of 11, and digitally penetrating and raping her, and for touching another woman. He denied all the offending against one victim, and said the touching of the other victim had occurred accidentally when he mistook her for his wife in bed in the dark.

Judge Kellar said: “This type of offending is about as serious as it gets.”

The victims had written “moving” victim impact statements, he said.

The judge jailed Martin for 12 years, but decided against imposing the non-parole term that the Crown had asked for. Martin will become eligible to be considered for release after four years, but his actual release will be decided by the Parlole Board.