Greater sentence for assault
A Te Awamutu man has received a heftier sentence after the solicitor general appealed, saying his sentence was too light.
Laine Peter Lunjevich was found guilty of indecent assault by a jury in Hamilton District Court in July 2011. He was 19 when the attack took place and is now aged 21.
He'd attacked an intoxicated woman as she walked home one morning in Hamilton's CBD.
Judge Peter Spiller convicted and sentenced Lunjevich - now believed aged 21 - to six months' community detention, intensive supervision, 100 hours' community work and ordered $300 reparation be paid.
However, the Court of Appeal called Judge Spiller's sentence "manifestly inadequate" in a decision this week. It quashed Lunjevich's sentence and resentenced him to 11 months' home detention.
On the night of the incident, Lunjevich followed an intoxicated woman as she left a nightclub.
At an isolated spot, he attacked her and she fell to the ground with Lunjevich punching her and indecently assaulting her by removing her top "and/or" touching her breasts.
He stopped after hearing a car drive past. He stole the victim's handbag and her phone so that she could not call for help.
He admitted a charge of robbery on the morning of the trial but denied a sexual assault took place.
The Court of Appeal noted Judge Spiller chose a more rehabilitative sentence, however it lacked any "denunciation and deterrence" of the offending.
"Sexual assaults on vulnerable women at night are always to be condemned in the plainest terms. When they are aggravated by a significant physical assault, and by a deliberate decision to leave the woman in a more vulnerable condition by stealing her only means of seeking help, denunciation must be paramount," the judges wrote.
The Court of Appeal also doubted Lunjevich's remorse as he lied to the police in his initial statement, continued to deny responsibility at trial, and gave a version of events the jury plainly did not accept.
"These are concrete actions which are all inconsistent with later expressions of remorse."
The Court of Appeal accepted it was Lunjevich's first offence, he was of previous good character and had just got a job.
But the judges increased his sentence to allow for more accountability and individual deterrence.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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