Attacker blames synthetic cannabis

Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014
Hugh Hemi Tuatua Tareha
JOHN COWPLAND/ Fairfax NZ
GUILTY: Hugh Hemi Tuatua Tareha, 30, who had led the Parole Board to believe he was motivated to make changes, sexually attacked an 87-year-old woman in her home while he was on parole. He is pictured earlier this year.

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A serial offender who targets elderly women blames synthetic cannabis for the sex attack on an 87-year-old Hastings woman.

He said he was standing 100 metres away when he picked out the Hastings woman.

He would later blame the synthetic drugs for his crimes, court documents reveal.

By 10.30am on November 7, 2013, Hugh Hemi Tuatua Tareha, 30, had already been drinking alcohol and smoking synthetic cannabis.

The day before, at a parole board hearing to monitor his progress six months after being released from prison, Tareha was warned that the intoxicating substances ban that was a condition of his parole included synthetic cannabis.

Using it the next day made him "fidgety" and at 12.45pm he chose his victim.

He saw her walk to her letterbox and as she stooped to pick weeds from the garden he grabbed her backside and gripped her as she tried to flee inside.

Following his guilty pleas this week the High Court released a prosecution summary of Tareha's crimes, which said the woman was not raped but was forcefully violated on the floor of her home.

Her physical reaction to the assault stopped Tareha, and he called her "an egg".

Her hips were severely bruised when he kicked her repeatedly before leaving her house. Her neck and arms were also heavily bruised in the attack.

Then she went to bed and waited several hours for her son to come home.

The same day a 73-year-old woman had a lucky escape.

She was sweeping the porch of her home when Tareha made up a story about wanting to use her phone because his car had broken down.

She let him into her house, and when he handed the phone back to her, he complimented her "nice hands" and asked if she would like a "kiss and a cuddle".

She told him her husband was due home and he should leave. As he passed he deliberately brushed her breast with his arm.

Tareha eventually admitted the first attack, and said the synthetic cannabis had made him act that way.

At the time Tareha was on parole after robbing a 68-year-old woman of small change during the course of a burglary, for which he was sentenced to three years and nine months jail in February 2011.

A theme of his parole hearings was the help he needed for what was called a schizoaffective disorder.

"The importance of managing his medication and keeping away from illicit substances and alcohol was emphasised," the board said.

He was approved for release from July 22 last year, when the board decided that his risk to the community could be adequately managed with parole conditions.

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Tareha went to a progress monitoring hearing in November, where the board said that apart from "what looks as if it was an innocent smoking of a synthetic drug" he had complied well with his parole conditions.

To make the banning of synthetic drugs clear, it changed the wording of his conditions by adding "synthetic substances" to the alcohol and illegal drugs ban.

The next day he broke that condition with tragic results.

The Corrections Department, whose officers monitored Tareha's compliance with parole conditions, would not comment.

But it will provide information to the judge who is to sentence Tareha in the High Court at Napier in September.

The Crown wants Tareha jailed indefinitely.

- The Dominion Post

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