A convicted child molester and former Southland man who avoided jail for 22 years has lost his appeal against his sentence.
In 1990, Ron Dillon was convicted and sentenced to eight months' jail on one count of indecent assault on a 13-year-old girl. After appealing his sentence and being granted bail, Dillon fled to Australia but was caught trying to re-enter New Zealand in September this year.
Justice Miller heard Dillon's appeal in the High Court at Invercargill on November 5 and released his decision yesterday.
Justice Miller said in his written decision that Dillon lived in Queensland until 2010 when he decided to come home.
Dillon learned the court still held him accountable for the 1990 crime but gambled he would not be caught. He had entered the country six times in two years before being detected at an immigration counter on September 23.
He then continued to appeal against the 1990 sentence, seeking to avoid jail.
Dillon's lawyer, Bill Dawkins, told the court Dillon had led a blameless life since 1990 and was suffering from cancer and had lost part of his colon and two fingers.
In his decision, Justice Miller said Dillon did not deserve to avoid jail because of his lack of reoffending or his illness.
"I think it is regrettable that this sentence should be hanging over Mr Dillon still.
"I accept that the unfinished business has weighed heavily on him. But he has only himself to blame for that. I am not insensitive to his plea for leniency but I would have received it more warmly had he surrendered himself. Instead, he maintained, and still maintains, that the state should not consign him to prison, a sentence which he thinks harsh and finds difficult to contemplate.
"Those sentiments are quite understandable, but they offer no justification. The court cannot encourage those who hope that absconding will have its reward in time," the decision said.
Justice Miller accordingly dismissed the appeal and ordered Dillon to surrender himself to custody.
- The Southland Times