Paedophile victims dismayed by secrecy

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 17:52 14/08/2014

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Victims of a serial paedophile are disappointed a judge's decision means their attacker's identity remains secret.

The two women, who live in Christchurch, have been locked in a legal battle to out the man who committed crimes against them four decades ago.

They believe he has used the automatic name suppression granted to all victims of sexual abuse to hide his past.

They want his identity made public so parents can keep their children safe. There could also be other victims who had not spoken to police, they said.

Last month, during a hearing at the Christchurch District Court, the women asked Judge Paul Kellar to lift their name suppression in a bid to reveal his identity.

In a judgement released this afternoon, Kellar granted their request. However, he stated he could not lift the order suppressing the name of their attacker.

''The District Court has no jurisdiction or inherent power to vary or discharge the order suppressing the identity of the defendant,'' Kellar's judgement says.

The decision appears to mean the women's names cannot be published because that may lead to the identification of the sex offender.

Fairfax is seeking further legal advice on this decision.

''The applicants [the two women] have succeeded in part although their success will be seen as something of a hollow victory,'' Kellar's judgement says.

After reading the decision, the women vowed to continue their fight to reveal the man's name. ''Get a picture of me in handcuffs because that's what it's going to amount to,'' one of the victims said.

The other victim said: "He's just a mongrel that needs to be outed.''

The women's lawyer Nikki Pender said the case had received a fair hearing and the judge had done an ''exceptionally thorough'' job.

''He came to the conclusion that his hands were tied and his reluctance in the outcome was pretty evident from the reading of the decision.''

It was likely the women would seek a judicial review of the man's suppression order, Pender said. Matters raised in the case had rarely been tested before. Victims usually wanted to remain anonymous, she said.

''We're really testing new ground here.''

The women were repeatedly sexually abused as children by the man in the 1970s. They complained to police in 1994.

A year later, in Christchurch, he was convicted of five offences of indecent assault or doing an indecent act and jailed for 12 months.

The man complained to the Privacy Commission after his name and convictions appeared on the Sensible Sentencing Trust's website of offenders in 2009.

He argued the court had suppressed his name.

The trust said the court record showed an interim order was made but there was no record of final suppression.

A Court of Appeal ruling in June suggested the interim suppression order remained in force unless it was lifted.

The Director of Human Rights Proceedings Robert Kee was set to take the case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal this month on the man's behalf.

However, the trust reached a settlement with Kee, who filed a discontinuation of the proceedings.

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Sensible Sentencing Trust spokeswoman Ruth Money said New Zealand's name suppression law was no longer fit for purpose.

"Chuck it out and start with a blank piece of paper."

Today's judgement showed the law was not grounded in common sense and needed to be remedied immediately, she said.

"Here we saw the law allowing offenders to effectively piggyback on the rightful application of name suppression that is awarded to survivors of sexual abuse."

Money said the trust called for all political parties to commit to a review of the law, and would support the two Christchurch woman through a judicial review of the man's suppression order.

- The Press

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