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Judge: Abuse case 'most disturbing'

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 12:00 15/02/2014

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A judge has described a man's sexual and physical abuse of his partner as "the most disturbing" he had heard in his 35-year career.

Justice Collins made the comment in the Nelson High Court yesterday as he sentenced Patrick Kohu, 53, to 16 years imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of eight years.

After a trial in December, a jury found him guilty of 16 charges, including that he regularly raped and assaulted his former partner, and did indecent acts with intent to insult or offend her.

The court heard the abuse occurred over 19 years. After an incident in Stoke in March last year, during which the victim was beaten, raped and sexually humiliated after a heavy drinking session, she went to police.

Justice Collins said the "grossly abusive" nature of the offending had the most profound impact on the victim and the victim's family.

She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological conditions as a result of the abuse.

It was "the most disturbing [case he had] ever heard" in his 35-year career as a prosecutor, defence lawyer and judge.

The judge said it appeared Kohu generally showed no remorse and was hostile towards all court staff, his counsel, probation services and the police.

Justice Collins sentenced Kohu to a total of 16 years imprisonment on the basis of the "degrading and humiliating" degree of violence, the significant trauma suffered by the victim and the scale of continual violent and sexual abuse.

Kohu stared at the victim throughout the sentencing and barked at the judge as he left court.

Crown prosecutor Jackson Webber said it was difficult to determine sentencing because in some ways the circumstances of the case and the nature of the offending was unprecedented.

The sexual offending was about dominance, violence, degradation and humiliation, he said.

Defence lawyer Tony Bamford asked the judge to be cautious when considering a sentence, saying there were only incidents of extreme violence that were prompted by jealousy as opposed to continuous abuse.

Outside court, police family violence co-ordinator Sergeant John Maxwell said the victim was a brave woman that needed to be applauded.

"You have to applaud her on her strength to come forward and go through such a difficult trial.

"Imagine how hard it might be to report a burglary when it is someone you know. Now imagine how even more difficult it would be to report that you have been subject to domestic violence with someone you made a life with, had children with, and was financially bound to."

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Sergeant Maxwell said police wanted to raise awareness "so that those people who are thwarted and isolated by family violence may one day feel they can comfortably speak out".

- The Nelson Mail

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