Man avoids jail for indecent assault

Last updated 06:36 14/11/2012

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Unusual circumstances have mean a Blenheim man has avoided prison or an electronic sentence after admitting a charge of indecent assault of a girl under the age of 12.

In Blenheim District Court yesterday, the 48-year-old man, whose name is suppressed to protect his victim's identity, was sentenced to 18 months' intensive supervision and 160 hours' community work after earlier admitting the charge.

Judge Susan Thomas said it was an unusual case as the charged had initially been laid as a summary charge to reflect the low-level offence, but it then had to be raised to an indictable charge after the man pleaded not guilty and asked to be tried by a jury.

The man had been charged after being caught masturbating as he sat next to the sleeping girl on February 19, Judge Thomas said.

The man has serious mental health issues and had been drinking and smoking cannabis almost daily before the offending, which was his first offence, she said.

An address suggested for the man to serve a home detention or community detention sentence was not suitable, but both the defence and prosecution agreed any sentence needed to be focused on helping the man with his rehabilitation, she said.

Judge Thomas ordered that the man's supervision sentence include alcohol and drug counselling, and any other programme recommended by probation to help prevent him reoffending.

Also appearing in the court yesterday:

Siaosi Tani Tapaevalu was sentenced to nine months' supervision and 140 hours' community work after earlier admitting assaulting a female and breaching a protection order. Judge Thomas said Tapaevalu had punched his wife in the face after an argument over the amount of work she was doing when she went to help him with his work on June 30. Defence lawyer Rennie Gould said the victim had scratched Tapaevalu and he had reacted. Tapaevalu had not been allowed to live with the family since the incident, but his wife wanted the family back together. Judge Thomas said Tapaevalu was to complete anger management counselling.

Shodee Amy Dede Turner, 26, of Renwick, admitted charges of possessing cannabis and drug utensils and was sentenced to nine months' supervision to get drug and alcohol counselling. Police prosecutor Sergeant Mark Lucas said police spotted the drug utensils when they went to Turner's home on an unrelated matter. When they told her they were going to search the house she gave them a cigarette carton containing less than 1 gram of cannabis and admitted the drug and the utensils were hers for her own use, he said.

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Defence lawyer Rennie Gould said Turner was a fulltime mother. She had given up smoking cannabis, but accepted she needed some help to stay clean.

Judge Thomas told Turner smoking cannabis at home was the last thing she should be doing if she was looking after her daughter.

Lillian Waitaro Kapo, 54, unemployed, of Witherlea, admitted charges of cultivating a cannabis plant and possessing drug utensils and was ordered to come up for sentence if called within 12 months.

Joseph Eden Clark, 27, of Picton, was disqualified from driving for six months after earlier admitting a charge of dangerous driving. Clark was also convicted and discharged on a charge of recklessly endangering KiwiRail staff after driving on train tracks in Picton in April. Judge Thomas said the sentence could be seen as light, but she had taken into account Clark's commitment to his trade training and his efforts to turn his life around.

Ryan Tristan Morrison, 21, an engineer of Riverlands, admitted a charge of driving in a sustained loss of traction and was disqualified from driving for six months, fined $350 and had his car confiscated.

Mr Lucas said Morrison was with friends who drove to the intersection of Jacksons and Rapaura roads about 10.30pm on October 13 to do "driving displays". The road was wet and visibility was poor, he said. About 11pm, Morrison drove into the intersection and did three 360-degree spins with his lights off, Mr Lucas said.

He was seen by a police officer, but when the officer challenged him he said he had only driven into the intersection turned around and driven back, he said.

Morrison's car was also unregistered and unwarranted and the tyres had been replaced with older, worn tyres, he said.

Judge Thomas said Morrison had been convicted of the same offence last year, but had not learned his lesson.

Jade Alexander Bevan, 20, of Blenheim, admitted charges of wilful damage and assault.

He denied a charge of escaping police custody and was remanded to reappear on December 13.

Joshua Daniel Samuels, 29, a fisherman of Riversdale, admitted smashing the windscreen of a taxi after the driver asked him to get out of the taxi about 1.25am on July 15. Samuels was drunk and had been behaving inappropriately, Mr Lucas said.

Judge Thomas said Samuels' actions had big consequences for the taxi driver and the company that owned the car. She fined Samuels $600 to cover the $362.25 it cost to fix the windscreen and as an emotional harm payment for the driver.

Lloyd Anthony Lambert, 52, a vineyard worker, of Riversdale, admitted shoplifting a $17 bottle of wine from New World supermarket on November 6. He was sentenced to nine months' supervision for alcohol counselling and 60 hours' community work and ordered to pay $17 reparation.

Mathew Robert Neal, 36, a factory hand of Redwoodtown, denied a charge of assaulting a female and was remanded to reappear on December 13.

- The Marlborough Express

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