Jul 5, 2017

Church member jailed as 'perverted' past catches up with him

A Blenheim man has been sent to prison at the Blenheim District Court.
The Marlborough Express
July 5, 2017

A Blenheim man has been sent to prison at the Blenheim District Court.

A man who played out his "perverted sexual needs" on his nephew more than 50 years ago has been sent to prison.

His "premeditated, sophisticated and determined" offending deserved nothing less than prison, the judge said, despite his lawyer arguing his client could die behind bars.

Defence lawyer Nick McKessar asked for a home detention sentence as the man, an Exclusive Brethren now in his 80s, was in poor health.

But despite probation also recommending home detention, Judge David Ruth was not swayed, sentencing him to two years and four months in prison.

Supporters burst into tears as Judge Ruth gave his decision at the Blenheim District Court on Wednesday.

The man's role in the church was suppressed during the trial as the defence argued it could identify him, and therefore his victim. Judge Ruth disagreed but made name suppression permanent.

McKessar said on Wednesday the media tended to cast the Exclusive Brethren "in a poor light", and publication of his link to the church could paint the small Blenheim congregation in poor light too.

Crown prosecutor Jackson Webber said it was likely the church was more concerned about protecting its image than identifying the defendant, and his role in the church was part of evidence presented at his trial.

The man was found guilty of 22 sex offences against a boy under the age of 10 last month.

His nephew, now in his 50s, went to police in 2012, saying he was sexually abused on eight visits to his uncle's house in the 1960s. He told his parents about the offending when it happened but they did not believe him.

During the trial, the jury heard how the man played "games" with his nephew in the bedroom, got into the shower with him, and put his hand up his trouser leg.

Webber said the victim's life had been "blighted" by the offending.

He had become an alcoholic and struggled with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after the abuse.

McKessar said his client's age, lack of criminal history and poor health were mitigating factors for sentencing.

The defendant ended up in hospital the weekend after hearing the guilty verdict, he said.

Judge Ruth said the defendant was only charged with indecent assault instead of sexual violation because of when the offending happened.

The Crimes Act 1961 was amended in 1985 to distinguish between different types of sexual violence, with sexual violation now fetching a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The man maintained his innocence after the verdict and did not apologise or offer compensation, so got no credit for remorse, Judge Ruth said.

"It was premeditated, sophisticated and determined offending to ensure that your perverted sexual needs were met."

The victim impact statement was "a sad chronicle of a man who is confused about who he is", Judge Ruth said.

"Make no mistake about it ... the devastation this man has suffered in his life is a result of you ... and no-one else."


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