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Five years jail for 1982 sex offences

A 67-year-old man found guilty earlier this year of raping his teenaged cousin before she joined him on a Bonnie and Clyde-like crime spree in 1982 has been sentenced.

Judge Warren Cathcart imposed five years imprisonment when the man appeared in Gisborne District Court via AV-link from a prison.

The man is on a sentence of preventive detention imposed in 2004 for sexual offending against other younger family members.

His name is withheld to protect his victims’ identities.

A jury found him guilty in June of three of four charges he faced after a woman went to police in 2019 claiming that as a 13-year-old the man had raped her several times at her family’s farm.

Then 28 and just out of prison, the man was allowed by the girl’s parents to stay in a derelict building on their farm.

Unaware of any sexual misconduct by him, the couple asked him to leave about two weeks later when they grew concerned about the influence of his gang lifestyle on their children.

The girl ran away to be with him, staying throughout his 14-day crime spree between Gisborne and Opotiki.

The pair’s escapade made national headlines. When finally arrested, each pointed firearms at advancing police.

The girl told police then about sexual activity between her and the man but her claims were not followed up.

Charges laid after her 2019 complaint related only to what happened at the farm, not during their time on the run.

Judge Cathcart said given the historical timeframe of the offending, when it was reported and the man’s 2004 sentencing, there were a number of approaches the court could take to this sentencing.

Counsel Adam Simperingham and Crown counsel Michael Blaschke advocated for competing approaches but unless either one resulted in an end sentence of six years or more, it would not affect the man’s current eligibility for parole, the judge said.

Given that appeared unlikely, this sentencing was therefore essentially an academic exercise, he said.

He preferred the Crown’s simpler approach — to sentence for these charges as if they were included with the offences for which the man was sentenced in relation to his “on-the-run offences” in 1982 (armed robbery, burglaries, presenting a firearm and abduction of the girl).

Setting a starting point was not easy, the judge said. It had to take into account case law at the time, which was limited.

Sentencing for rapes of young girls were rare in those years because of a corroboration rule, the judge said.

However, there was some guidance and those cases confirmed youth was always a significant aggravating feature. The general starting range for offending like this would be six to seven years, the judge said.

He noted aggravated features of this offending included the man giving the girl alcohol. One of the most serious incidents involved the man raping the girl after she had thrown up from alcohol and in front of her younger brother.

An element of grooming and psychological manipulation was involved. The man told the girl he had loved her for some time, dreamed of marrying her and that she was “ripe and ready”.

He had been forceful in some of his offending, wrenching the girl’s legs apart.

She was vulnerable by virtue of her age and the age difference between them.

The Crown advocated for a starting point of eight to nine years; Mr Simperingham for six to seven years.

They differed much more as to the level of adjustment for totality, which was also affected by the approach the court had taken to sentencing.

The judge said the five-year end sentence he arrived at could only be imposed concurrently with the existing sentence of preventive detention.

Finite sentences cannot be imposed cumulatively on indeterminant ones.

Because of the custodial outcome, the man’s name will be added to a national register of child sex offenders, the legislation for which applies retrospectively.

‘Rape then and rape now’ – The Gisborne Herald

Girl went on run with her alleged rapist – The Gisborne Herald

‘It just became normal’ – The Gisborne Herald