'Never blame yourself' judge tells mother of abused child

By Contributor

Judge Russell Collins said any claim the man had to previous good character was negated by his 19 months of offending. Photo / NZME

By Ric Stevens, Open Justice multimedia journalist, Te Matau-a-Māui

"Please, you must never blame yourself for what happened here."

That was the message a judge gave to a mother who married a man who was already sexually abusing her daughter, and who would continue to do so.

"None of this was of your making," Judge Russell Collins told the girl's mother in the Napier District Court on Friday.

"Go about your life, look your daughter in the eye and encourage her that none of it was of her making either."

The man, whose name cannot be published to protect the identity of his victim, had earlier pleaded guilty to raping a girl under 12, three counts of unlawful sexual connection and one of indecent assault.

He will stay behind bars for more than five and a half years.

The court was told that the representative charges covered continuing offending which spanned 19 months.

Judge Collins said the man's victim was "to all intents and purposes a daughter" even though he was not her biological father.

He came into her life when she was 5 years old and had already started offending against her when he married the girl's mother.

The girl was raped on numerous occasions, the judge said, in various bedrooms in the house and in a garden shed.

Judge Collins said the mother was a victim in the case, along with her daughter.

Defence counsel Eric Forster said the man had no previous criminal history.

The abuse started when he was 30 years old and he pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity when confronted with the "horror" of what he had done, at the age of 32.

However, Crown solicitor Megan Mitchell said the offending was "among the most serious of its kind", given the man's position of trust, and the consequences were likely to be life-long for the victim and her mother.

Judge Collins gave the man credit for his "mercifully early" guilty plea, but declined to do so for his single letter of remorse, or for his lack of a criminal history.

"Any claim to previous good character had disappeared in the course of those 19 months [of offending]," the judge said.

He sentenced the man to 11 years and three months in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of five years and seven months.

The man will be placed on the child sex offender register.

Sexual harm - Do you need help?

If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone contact the Safe to Talk confidential crisis helpline on:
• Text 4334 and they will respond
• Email support@safetotalk.nz
• Visit https://safetotalk.nz/contact-us/ for an online chat
Alternatively, contact your local police station.