Turangi child sex attacker jailed 10 years

JAILED: Raurangi Marino at today's sentencing.
ROSS SETFORD/SNPA
JAILED: Raurangi Marino at today's sentencing.

Raurangi Marino drank between 20 and 30 bottles of beer before stumbling into the Turangi campground, assaulting and raping a five-year-old tourist.

Marino, 16, was today jailed for 10 years for rape, seven for grievous bodily harm and two years for burglary. The terms were to be served concurrently.

The girl's parents released a statement following the sentencing.

"We are relieved a part of this nightmare is finished; even if it is still just a part. We would like to thank the court,  the police and the people of New Zealand. It has been a very emotional evening for us."

The Rotorua District Court heard Marino had been on a 10-hour drinking binge and smoking cannabis leading up to the attack on the girl in December.

He broke into a unlocked caravan parked at Club Habitat and assaulted the girl while her parents were less than 20 metres away in an amenities block.

Marino had gone to two parties during the day, the second party he left after an argument and wandered into the camp ground where he tried to open car doors.

He found the caravan where the young victim was sleeping unlocked and went in.

The girl screamed and tried to run away but he grabbed her, choking her and hitting her around the head and face.

She was left with four missing teeth and serious internal injuries. He fled when her mother returned.

Judge Phillip Cooper said Marino had a dysfunctional family background involving drug taking, gang connections and alcohol abuse, but this did not condone his behaviour.

"You are responsible for your actions but your whanau and extended whanau are responsible for your upbringing which has involved a young man who has committed a serious crime."

Judge Cooper said the lead offence was rape and the other charges of burglary and grievous bodily harm were aggravating factors.

The age and vulnerability of the victim and the high level of violence involved, including the choking of the girl plus the element of home invasion, caused considerable emotional harm to the victim and her family.

As tourists the vulnerability was increased and there was an effect on Turangi and New Zealand's tourism reputation.

Judge Cooper gave a starting point of imprisonment of 18 years because of the seriousness of the offending but gave a discount of four and a half years because of Marino's youth, dysfunctional upbringing, remorse and early guilty plea.

Crown prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch said: "Heads were shaking the breadth of the country and the community was bewildered by a crime of such severity committed on a victim so young. There was a deep sense of shame within the Turangi community and throughout New Zealand that one of our own had committed this offence on a visitor whose family had come to New Zealand to enjoy a holiday."

Defence counsel Katherine Ewen said Marino had attempted suicide a month before the offending. He was also sexually abused when he was 9 and 15 years old.

Detective Inspector Mark Loper, who led the investigation, said after the sentence that his "thoughts are with the young girl and her family".

"They have gone through a terrible ordeal that will no doubt be with them for a long time to come. I am pleased that they have at least been spared the additional ordeal of a trial," Loper said.

"It was an emotional investigation at a very poignant time of year, touching the hearts of so many. New Zealand, particularly the community of Turangi, was watching and waiting with bated breath for an early resolution and I am extremely proud of the committed and dedicated team who brought about that timely result.

"Many of the staff working on the investigation are parents themselves and not one of them hesitated to give up quality time with their own families over Christmas to bring some peace of mind to so many others.

"On a final note, it is important to acknowledge the communities in which we all live and work. The support shown to the police and the family throughout was overwhelming, and we have seen that generosity continue with the recent announcement by the family that they are donating a large amount of the Trust money back to worthwhile causes in New Zealand."

Around $62,000 was raised for the family - including $13,000 by Turangi residents.

In February the parents donated $20,000 of the funds back to the community towards a children's playground, the fight against child abuse, hospital equipment and Victim Support.

The Dominion Post