Sex offender removed from register

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A man convicted of sexually abusing his stepdaughter has had his name removed from the Child Sex Offender Register.

The defendant — who has permanent name suppression — was found guilty at an Invercargill District Court trial on nine charges of indecent assault.

The offending began in Queenstown when the man was in a relationship with the victim’s mother and further illegal acts later took place in Invercargill.

Judge Mark Callaghan sentenced the defendant to two years’ imprisonment and as a result of the jail term he was automatically added to the Child Sex Offender Register.

However, the judge left the door open for the sentence to be converted to one of home detention if an appropriate address became available.

When it did, he was re-sentenced to 11 months’ home detention.

Where an offender receives a non-custodial sentence, a court may order the offender to be placed on the register only if it is satisfied the offender poses a risk to the lives or sexual safety of one or more children, or of children generally.

Counsel Sonia Vidal argued before the Court of Appeal last month that if her client had an address prepared, he would have been sentenced to home detention originally and would therefore have avoided being added to the register.

Justices Clifford, Lang and Mander agreed and ordered the police to remove the defendant’s name.

While before the Court of Appeal, Ms Vidal also appealed against the convictions, alleging the guilty verdicts were unreasonable and that various features of the trial, either individually or collectively, led to a miscarriage of justice.

The defence case at trial was that the mother had manipulated the victim to make up allegations to prejudice a custody battle over other children.

Any fabrication or collusion was rejected by the girl when she was in the witness box.

Ms Vidal argued that various elements of the Crown’s case were deficient but each point was rejected by the appeal court in a judgement released last week.

‘‘The matters that were raised before us on appeal were canvassed before the jury. There were inconsistencies in the evidence, a number of which we have traversed relating to the presence of the complainant at various addresses and where she was living . . . at various times. However, the opportunity for the offendding to have occurred remained. We accept the Crown submission that this was a classic credibility case where the jury was best placed to assess the honesty and reliability of the complainant and other witnesses,’’ said Justice Mander.

‘‘The contention made on behalf of [the defendant] that the complainant’s mother had lied at trial was merely a submission. As is apparent from the jury’s verdict, the defence theory that the mother and the complainant had conspired together to fabricate a story was rejected.’’

  • Otago Daily Times