Family upset, Selby gets 10 years

17:00, Aug 29 2014

Family members yelled out expletives in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday after Steven John Selby received a 10-year jail sentence for the rape and sexual abuse of an intellectually disabled teenager.

Following a jury trial in July, the 40-year-old Taranaki man was found guilty of two counts of rape, two of sexual violation and three of indecently assaulting the 17-year-old girl at his home on February 4 last year.

In sentencing Judge John Macdonald said there were no mitigating factors in the offending.

Selby's lawyer Patrick Mooney asked that Selby be given 7-8 years' jail while Crown prosecutor Justin Marinovich called for 10-12 years.

The judge said the jury clearly rejected Selby's stance that the girl had initiated the sexual activity. Her victim impact statement told how she had felt very scared, trapped and with nowhere to go. She was still attending counselling.

"Life is difficult enough without your offending against her," the judge said.


Aggravating factors included a degree of pre-meditation. She was vulnerable to a high degree and ill-equipped to protect herself. There was also a breach of trust.

Selby was sentenced to 10 years after a reduction of six months for his lack of previous offending and to acknowledge, given his intellectual makeup, the difficulties he might face in prison.

Selby's sister yelled: "This is f----- bullshit" while another man shouted "She's dead meat."

It was a "watershed" moment for New Plymouth man Tamati Ruka Thomas who has for the first time asked for help to stop his lifetime of violent offending, the court heard.

Thomas, 33, was yesterday sentenced after being found guilty at trial in July of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, injuring with intent and breaching a protection order at a house in Eltham on July 20 last year.

The jury found him not guilty of two counts of assault with a knife.

He was jailed yesterday for 5 .

In evidence Thomas had denied being at the house and argued it could have been his uncle, who had since died, or a person he knew only as Chewbacca.

Defence counsel Susan Hughes QC said her client had an "epiphany" in finally recognising his anger issues had caused a lifetime of offending.

He was asking for help because he could not deal with it on his own.

He knew his issues had led to an endless cycle of offending and incarceration and two strike warnings.

"He understands next time it's a maximum sentence," Hughes said, calling for a 4 year jail sentence.

Crown prosecutor Nina Laird asked for a sentence of eight years' jail because of the extreme and prolonged violence, including kicking to the head and body. Thomas was on bail at the time and was breaching a protection order.

Judge John Macdonald said the jury "clearly and unsurprisingly" rejected Thomas' alibi defence.

He had become jealous and his texts to his on-off partner of 10 years became angry, abusive and threatening.

When he arrived at Eltham, where his partner was attending a children's party, he attacked two people. One was left unconscious, after being kicked in the head, and spent two days in hospital. The man's wife, who tried to protect her husband was also injured. Thomas' partner, who was in court, wrote a letter in support of him.

The sentencing was a "watershed" occasion for Thomas in that for the first time it appeared he was prepared to take responsibility, the judge said.

The stance might be genuine "only time will tell . . . but it is in everyone's best interests that programmes are made available to you," the judge said.

Taranaki Daily News