Abuser's name secret despite victim's wish

Last updated 05:00 15/04/2014

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The identity of a well-known Hawke's Bay man found guilty of historic sexual offending will remain secret - even though his victim waived her right not to be identified.

"I didn't want him to go to prison, but I wanted him held accountable and that to me included his name being made public," the woman said yesterday, after a judge granted final name suppression on Friday.

The man pleaded guilty last year to assaulting and indecently assaulting his stepdaughter and assaulting his stepson between 1984 and 1990.

The girl, who was also beaten with a leather strap, was aged between 8 and 10 when the sexual offending occurred.

Speaking to The Dominion Post yesterday, she said she had lived with the effects of the man's offending for 20 years and did not see why his name should be kept secret.

"It might have been a long time ago, but it's something I've had to live with all my life. I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out if he hadn't done what he did," she said.

"You can't do that to someone's life and just move on. It's not a good message to send that if you don't get caught for 20 years you might get to keep your name secret."

The woman's brother was beaten when he was 8 because he signed a birthday card against the man's wishes.

In September last year the man's lawyer, Russell Fairbrother, QC, asked for a discharge without conviction, given the substantial steps the man had taken since offending.

However, Judge Jonathan Down said the indecent offending had occurred over a period of time and involved numerous incidents. He sentenced the man to nine months' home detention.

The judge noted the man's surname was different to his victim's and said there was no basis on which name suppression should continue.

He granted interim name suppression for 48 hours after sentencing, and permanently suppressed the identity of the man's employer.

The man appealed the sentence and conviction to the High Court, but later withdrew it.

In formally dismissing the appeal in October, Justice Paul Heath acknowledged that the stepdaughter wished to waive her right to name suppression so the man could be named.

But he would not lift name suppression until she formally applied to the district court.

He said if she successfully applied, the offender's name suppression would automatically lapse.

The woman made that formal application and in the Napier District Court on Friday Judge Tony Adeane waived her right not to be identified. But he also allowed a "cross-application" from Fairbrother for full and final name suppression of the man.

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The judge read affidavits in support of Fairbrother's application and said the man had no previous convictions, had a stable marriage and was employed in a position in which trust was important.

"He simply says this situation and his reputation would be destroyed, and his reformation put asunder if his name was now published," the judge said.

There was also a suggestion that "his wife's health was vulnerable" and would be adversely affected if his name was published.

The judge said neither the district nor high court had previously had the detailed information he had received and "given the historical nature" it was justified to grant permanent suppression.

- The Dominion Post

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