Home detention for historic sex charges

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 21/07/2014

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A Taumarunui roading contractor has avoided jail after admitting historic sexual assault charges.

Malcolm Roderick Fowler, who has worked for the Taumarunui District Council for the past 40 years as a roading contractor for Inframax, was this week sentenced to 12 months' home detention after earlier admitting seven representative charges of indecently assaulting a girl under 12, seven representative charges of indecently assaulting a girl aged between 12 and 16 and one charge of indecent assault between 1967 and 1981.

Fowler, now 64, was aged between 18 and 33 during that period.

The offending began against the victims when they were aged between 5 and 13 and took place in various towns around the central North Island.

Crown prosecutor Jamie O'Sullivan submitted to Judge Merelina Burnett that limited credit should be given for Fowler's pleas as they were given as the trial was about to kick off in May.

The effect of Fowler's actions on the victims had been grave, she said, and involved a significant breach of trust.

O'Sullivan said Fowler should be jailed for the crimes as a pre-sentence report had revealed he minimised his offending by saying he couldn't remember it.

Fowler's lawyer, Kerry Tustin, said her client was remorseful and had proffered a reparation cheque of $13,000 to be divided up between the victims.

Tustin said her client should not go to prison. Since the offending ended, some 33 years ago, Fowler had not committed any other offending and was supported in court by his wife and two daughters.

The judge agreed with Tustin and said it was a case where home detention was suitable, taking into account he had not appeared in court before.

She said Fowler was not able to be charged for the offences as indecent assault wasn't a charge that existed during that time.

The judge said the victims wept as they spoke to her after Fowler entered his guilty pleas in May. She explained how they had been robbed of their innocence as children and how they struggled to develop relationships as they grew into adults.

As well as sentencing Fowler to 12 months' home detention, she also imposed the maximum of 12 months' post detention conditions for when he is able to freely live his life again.

One of the victims was disappointed that Fowler wasn't jailed for his actions. She hadn't been able to sleep properly as Fowler's sentencing approached, but was relieved that he had been held to account for what he did.

She worked with victims of domestic and sexual abuse and those with mental illness for the past 18 years.

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Fowler had coached women's softball in Taumarunui for many years and she hoped any others had been affected by his behaviour could now come forward.

Taumarunui police Detective Sergeant Scott Ivimey acknowledged the bravery of the victims and urged any others to talk to police.

"If there are any further victims out there we encourage them to contact police and make the complaint." belinda.feek@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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