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Jail for sex offences against whangai daughter

A man has been jailed for three years and eight months for sexual offending against his whangai daughter — once when she was 14 and once years later after a family wedding.

The man, who is in his 60s, cannot be named due to automatic suppression that applies for victims of sexual offending.

He was found guilty by a jury in Gisborne District Court last year on two charges he continues to deny — one of unlawful sexual connection and one of indecent assault.

Judge Warren Cathcart sentenced him last Friday.

The sexual connection charge arose out of an incident when the girl was 14, near the end of the three years in which she was in his and his wife's care in a whangai-type arrangement.

She and some friends skipped school to drink alcohol. One of them owas hospitalised and all their respective parents and caregivers were phoned to collect them.

In the car on the way home, the man told the girl she had been naughty and he would punish her.

When they arrived home, he took her to a caravan on the property and forcefully removed her clothes, put his fingers into her vagina and said he wanted to make sure nothing else had happened to her that day.

Afterwards, she ran to another caravan and locked the door.

The girl subsequently left the couple's care but maintained a friendship with the man's wife, who had died by the time of the second offence, which happened at a family wedding many years later.

During the wedding, the woman became so intoxicated family members had to look after her. A decision was made to drive her home. The man insisted he would do it but instead of taking her home, took her to his house.

With the woman still severely affected by alcohol, he removed her clothes and bra and put her into one of his late wife's nighties.

She recalled him kissing her with his tongue in her mouth and woke later in a chair to find him snoring on a couch beside her.

She ran several kilometres home dressed only in the nightie and barefooted.

The man claimed to have taken her to his house out of concern and that he only kissed her in a fatherly way — explanations the jury clearly rejected, Judge Cathcart said.

He accepted the first offence was a reactionary one. But the second one was disturbing in the context and showed that after several years the man still had a sexual interest in the complainant, Judge Cathcart said.

Referring to the woman's victim impact statement, which she read in court, the judge said it was obvious the offending had a real, adverse impact on her life.

She rebelled and started drinking. Her schooling was affected and people didn't believe her. She got into bad relationships.

She was so traumatised after the later incident, she could not work for a year and, even then, had to have less contact with the public. She suffered flashbacks.

Judge Cathcart said there was not much difference in the sentence starting points suggested by the Crown and counsel Vicky Thorpe.

Aggravating features included the obvious breach of trust in what was essentially a father-daughter relationship, the vulnerability of the complainant when she was a young girl, her intoxication and the impact on her beyond that already inherent in the offences themselves.

On the lead charge – the unlawful sexual connection — the judge adopted the Crown's suggested starting point of four years.

The second offence involved a moderate degree of planning and premeditation, the judge said.

For it, he imposed an uplift adjusted for totality of four months.

Because of the man's continued denial, there could be no discount for guilty plea or remorse, the judge said.

Contrary to the Crown's view, he agreed with Ms Thorpe the offending did not completely rule out credit for the man's previous lack of convictions and otherwise exemplary life in which he had supported several vulnerable young people.

Eight months was discounted for those factors.