Sex abuse started with girl, 8

'HORRIFYING ABUSE': Tama Te Kira appears in  the High Court at Wellington where he was sentenced to eight years, eight months'  prison.
'HORRIFYING ABUSE': Tama Te Kira appears in the High Court at Wellington where he was sentenced to eight years, eight months' prison.

A Wainuiomata man jailed for eight years for the rape and repeated sexual abuse of five young girls says his life has been tough because of the debilitating genetic disorder he suffers from.

Tama Nui Te Kira, 47, stood expressionless in the High Court at Wellington yesterday as Justice Ron Young sentenced him to eight years and eight months' imprisonment for rape, attempted rape, six charges of sexual violation, and four of indecent assault.

Te Kira pleaded guilty to all the charges, which spanned the early 1990s to 2005.

The court was told Te Kira began offending while babysitting an 8-year-old girl.

He sneaked into her bedroom while she was sleeping and sexually assaulted her. The victim leapt from the bed, waking the other occupants of the room and halting the abuse.

In the mid-1990s, Te Kira slipped into the bedroom of another victim, aged 11, and began grinding himself against her. She pushed him away but a decade later, when she was 22, he pinned her down on a couch late at night and raped her.

When she struggled, he clasped his hand over her mouth and whispered: "No-one can hear you, they're all asleep."

The other victims were 12, 13 and 15 years old when they were assaulted on numerous occasions by Te Kira. In all the cases he entered their bedrooms and began touching them while they were sleeping.

One girl, aged 13, committed suicide soon afterwards. In a victim impact statement, her mother said: "You have destroyed my life, and that of my children."

Other victims were left feeling ashamed, confused and angry.

Defence lawyer Rennie Gould said her client had many health and social difficulties caused by Noonan syndrome.

"It has been almost impossible for him to lead a normal adult life."

All the assaults took place when Te Kira was drunk, and he had "very little recollection" of them, she said. "But he does take responsibility for not controlling his alcohol intake, and not controlling his sexual impulses."

Justice Young said the sexual abuse was horrifying, and Te Kira's health issues – which included a webbed neck, brittle bones and heart problems – while unfortunate, did not lessen the offending.

"You chose young girls you knew, you took advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves. The victims were all vulnerable."

NOONAN SYNDROME

Noonan syndrome is a genetic disorder characterised by short stature, heart defects, a slightly different facial appearance, and problems with the lymphatic system, according to Otago University Professor of Paediatric genetics Dr Stephen Robertson. Intellectual performance is usually unaffected, he says. The condition can be passed genetically through family members or occur randomly through a faulty gene.

Noonan syndrome is thought to be widely underdiagnosed, so many people could have it and be completely unaware, he says.

It is thought it could occur to different degrees in as many as one in every 1000 people.

The Dominion Post