Man appeals sentence for 20-year-old crime

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 12:00 22/11/2012

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A prominent Manawatu man has been sentenced to home detention for indecently assaulting a teenage boy 20 years ago, but his punishment has been put on hold as he appeals the conviction.

The middle-aged man has interim name suppression while he faces unrelated matters in the court.

At a jury trial three months ago he was found guilty on one charge of indecently assaulting a young man, dating from the early 1990s. He was cleared of two further indecency charges.

Because of the suppression order the Manawatu Standard cannot report all the details of the offending, but can reveal he touched the boy inappropriately while giving him rides in his car.

He also made comments like: "Are you feeling sexy?" but did not use violence and went no further when his victim showed no interest, the Palmerston North District Court heard yesterday.

In sentencing Judge Barbara Morris' starting point was a prison term but she took into account various personal factors in forming an end sentence of five months' home detention and 200 hours' community work.

"I have to add into the mix that since this period in your life, there has been a 20-year gap and no offending while you have made significant contributions to the community on a voluntary basis." The man continues to deny the charge, so got no discount for remorse.

"I ask that you look in your heart because, having heard this evidence, I have no doubt of your guilt," Judge Morris said.

"You should consider remorse and feeling remorseful for what occurred because that's something that you, and only you, can deal with."

She also ordered the man pay his victim $10,000 in emotional harm reparation. His home detention will not yet begin because he has appealed the conviction.

Defence lawyer Andru Isac told the Standard the appeal was filed in October and would likely be heard in the Court of Appeal next year.

While the man was in the dock yesterday, he heard Crown prosecutor Daniel Flinn read a statement from the victim, which talked about how the indecent assaults had affected his life.

"For 20 years I have merely existed, I have been unable to function, to fit in and be the man I feel I should be," said the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

"I feel that what should have been my best years, my maturing years, were taken away from me by the offending I was subjected to."

Mr Flinn urged Judge Morris to impose a prison sentence, saying the man's offending was premeditated and had a "predatory element" to it.

Mr Flinn warned against giving the man any credit for his otherwise good character, saying his standing in the community would not have been achieved if his offending came to light earlier.

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But Mr Isac said his client had changed since the early 1990s to become a loving family man and father.

"The person who's sentenced before you is not the immature young man who two decades ago committed this offence."

Mr Isac said the court had been given "extensive and glowing" character references about the man from people in "prominent and responsible" positions.

As the court process dragged on the man had lost his job and experienced financial difficulties.

"He faces the destruction of his reputation that he's worked hard to build," Mr Isac said.

The man's suppression will remain until late January, when it will again be discussed in court.

- Manawatu Standard

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