Rapist jailed for eight years

Last updated 12:30 27/07/2013

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A Nelson man has been jailed for eight years for raping his former partner, who was undergoing treatment for blood cancer.

Andrew Robert Edward Nelson, 33, was sentenced in the Nelson District Court yesterday by Judge Tony Zohrab.

He had pleaded not guilty at trial to two counts of assault and two counts of sexual violation, including the rape of his former partner, but a jury convicted him on all charges.

In an unusual move, Judge Zohrab decided to allow publication of Nelson's name.

The victim opposed name suppression even though it might identify her, Crown lawyer Mark O'Donoghue submitted.

"The public have a right to know what Mr Nelson has done so they can decide whether they want to have anything to do with him," he said.

Defence lawyer Tony Bamford argued against publication but the judge said in his view "the public have a right to know what you have done".

The court had been told the offending occurred in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2012, two months after Nelson and the victim began a relationship.

The victim, a diabetic who has had two liver transplants, was diagnosed with lymphoma shortly after. Nelson went to Auckland with the victim and her son, where she underwent treatment for her cancer. At that time they were living together in a small Richmond flat.

The victim told Nelson she wanted to end the relationship, but remain friends, as her main priority was getting well. He left the house for a few hours, before returning and convincing the victim to let him stay in her bed for the night.

Early in the morning Nelson got out of bed and grabbed a knife from the kitchen, which he concealed in his boxer shorts before returning to the bedroom where he tried to initiate sex.

When she rejected his advances he presented the knife. Nelson told the victim he would give the weapon to her if she removed her clothes and at one point said: "These are my rules now and I don't care who gets hurt."

The victim managed to take the knife from Nelson, though it remained within his arm's reach throughout.

Judge Zohrab said it was clear to the jury and himself that the sex would not have happened without the presence of the knife.

He said the victim continued to have nightmares about the assault, and had been seeing a counsellor to help her deal with depression and other ongoing effects.

Judge Zohrab said the key aggravating factor at sentencing was "the incredible vulnerability of the victim", who was struggling to recover from cancer and the side effects of treatment.

Nelson faced a maximum 20 years in prison.

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He said Nelson's phone call to police after the attack, which was played at trial, did not sound at all distressed, and he did not accept that Nelson was remorseful for his actions.

Judge Zohrab sentenced Nelson to eight years and three months in prison for the unlawful sexual connection, and two years concurrently for each of the assault charges.

He reduced the initial sentence by six months because Nelson had himself been sexually abused between the ages of 10 and 12.

- The Nelson Mail

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