A man who took advantage of an unconscious woman at a party and had sex with her has been jailed for six years.
Mark Anton Thomas, 32, appeared before Judge Allan Roberts in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday for sentencing on a charge of unlawful sexual connection by rape.
Thomas was found guilty by a jury after a trial in August.
Thomas had denied raping the 25-year-old woman at a party in Normanby on April 6, 2011, while she was unconscious, asleep or in a drunken or drugged state.
Blood samples taken 13 hours later did not detect alcohol or cannabis in her system but hair samples showed traces of a sleeping pill.
Defence lawyer Kelly Marriner said Thomas made a mistake as to consent.
"He genuinely holds that belief, that she was consenting."
She said Thomas did have remorse for what his victim had been through, but it was not an acknowledgement of offending.
Crown prosecutor Nina Elliott said the aggravating factors included the vulnerability of the victim and the emotional harm she had suffered. She said the victim had described the past year as "being hell" for her.
The victim had also lost her job during the trial process, she said.
Judge Roberts noted Thomas was found guilty at his second trial after the first jury was unable to reach a verdict.
He said the woman was compromised after vomiting in the toilet. "She had recall of being dragged into the bedroom and being placed on the bed."
Thomas then got into bed with the woman and had sex with her after removing her clothing.
Judge Roberts said in the victim impact statement the woman tried to rationalise how she was taken advantage of by a complete stranger. She was now on anti-depressants and felt mentally and physically exhausted.
'‘You were aware of her condition and took advantage of it."
He sentenced Thomas to six years jail and gave him his first strike warning that if he was convicted of another serious violent offence he would serve the sentence without parole or early release.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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