A Christchurch woman is considering moving overseas with her family to escape the man who has stalked her for four years and is now threatening to abduct her, torture her, and cut her throat.
She will get a few years respite from the attentions of Vincent Kerry Warren because he is likely to serve all of the five-year jail term imposed on him today.
Christchurch District Court Judge Alistair Garland said he was so concerned about Warren's offending that he would have sent him to the High Court where an open-ended jail sentence of preventive detention could have been considered.
"Unfortunately, that is not possible as the law stands," said the judge, as he sentenced 39-year-old Warren on charges of criminal harassment and threatening to kill.
Preventive detention is only available on more serious offences.
The woman was Warren's driving instructor. She is married with children and has told him she wants no relationship but the years of harassment have included emails, texts, voice messages containing threats, contact on Facebook, throwing eggs at her house, waiting for her and apparently photographing her on her way to work.
It has been escalating in its frequency and seriousness in spite of one jail term and court orders to make him stop.
"Your behaviour has now taken a more sinister and chilling turn for the worse with your threat to kill her," Judge Garland said.
"The threat you made was very precise and specific. It involved the use of a knife to kill the victim in a most gruesome way."
While in custody awaiting trial, Warren told a man he met that as soon as he was released he planned to locate the woman, abduct her to a remote spot such as a hillside or riverbed and then "make her suffer" for four years of pain before cutting her throat and watching her die.
"You have absolutely no insight into the distress you are causing the victim and her family," said the judge. The woman was now considering emigrating overseas with her family to escape Warren's harassment.
The lawyer assisting Warren in court as an amicus curiae or "friend of the court", Paul Norcross, said he believed that imposing a minimum non-parole term would be unnecessary because unless Warren admitted his offending he would be likely to serve the whole jail term anyway.
He said: "There seems to be recognition by him that he cannot do this again and he has to move on with his own life. Whether that transpires, time will tell."
The probation report said: "Sustained harassment against one vulnerable woman for such a long period of time must undoubtedly cause considerable psychological harm."
Warren's stance at the probation interview indicated no remorse and he was seen as a high risk of reoffending.
A psychological report was prepared on Warren before sentencing. It showed no mental health or cognitive difficulties that would explain his behaviour. Warren was unlikely to allow himself to undergo any recommended treatment anyway, the judge was told.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Mark Berryman said it was a case where the police would support imposition of a non-parole term, and Judge Garland agreed.
The judge said Warren needed to serve a substantial part of the sentence to be held properly accountable for his offending and imposed a three-year four-month non-parole term. Warren cannot even be considered for parole until that term has expired.
- The Press