Tougher sentence for sex attack

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 11:39 05/10/2012

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A Te Awamutu man has received a heftier sentence after the solicitor general appealed, saying his sentence was too light.

Laine Peter Lunjevich was found guilty by a jury of indecent assault in the Hamilton District Court in July.

He'd attacked an intoxicated woman as she walked home one morning in Hamilton's CBD.

Judge Spiller convicted and sentenced Lunjevich  to six months' community detention, intensive supervision, 100 hours' community work and ordered $300 reparation be paid.

However, the Court of Appeal was critical of Judge Spiller's sentence calling it ''manifestly inadequate'' in their decision. 

It quashed Lunjevich's sentence and re-sentenced him to 11 months' home detention.

Lunjevich followed an intoxicated woman as she walked home early one morning from a nightclub.

At an isolated spot, he attacked her and she fell to the ground with Lunjevich punching her and indecently assaulting her by removing her top ''and/or'' touching her breasts.

However, he stopped after hearing a car drive past. Instead, he stole the victim's handbag, stealing her phone so that she could not call for help.

He admitted a charge of robbery on the morning of the trial but denied a sexual assault took place.

The Court of Appeal noted Judge Spiller chose a more rehabilitative sentence, however it lacked any ''denunciation and deterrence'' of the offending.

''Sexual assaults on vulnerable women at night are always to be condemned in the plainest terms. When they are aggravated by a significant physical assault, and by a deliberate decision to leave the woman in a more vulnerable condition by stealing her only means of seeking help, denunciation must be paramount,'' the judges wrote.

The Court of Appeal also doubted Lunjevich's remorse as he lied to the police in his initial statement, continued to deny responsibility at trial, and gave a version of events the jury plainly did not accept.

''These are concrete actions which are all inconsistent with later expressions of remorse. Likewise, having stolen the phone for the limited purpose of leaving the victim without communication, Mr Lunjevich nevertheless kept it. He removed the SIM card and replaced it with his own. He used it for months until contacted by Telecom to be told he was using a stolen phone. He responded by saying he found it.'' The  Court of Appeal accepted it was Lunjevich's first offence, was of previous good character and had just got a job, but increased his sentence to allow for more accountability and individual deterrence.

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 He was also banned from drinking alcohol and using drugs and ordered to undertake any psychological assessment as deemed necessary.

- Waikato Times

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