WARNING: This story deals with indecent assault and may be distressing.
Two women who were indecently assaulted at a Christchurch beach say they want the man behind the assaults to “get the help he needs” rather than be punished.
The man, who has permanent name suppression due to his intellectual disability, has a history of sexual offending which happens when he is released from care facilities.
The 47-year-old, who has been diagnosed with autism and a mood disorder, was sentenced at the Christchurch High Court on Tuesday on two charges of indecent assault and one of resisting police.
The court heard the man had a long-standing pattern of staring at or making contact with adolescent girls and previous reports showed he was at a high risk of reoffending if unsupervised.
He had convictions dating back to 2001 including accessing child exploitation material.
According to the summary of facts, on October 25, 2021, the man was at New Brighton Beach when he approached a woman who was sitting on the beach.
He complimented her appearance and asked to sit next to her, but the woman felt uncomfortable so told him she was leaving.
The man commented on her appearance again, particularly her legs before indecently assaulting her.
He then stood up and walked away.
About five minutes later he approached another woman, who was walking up some stairs to the New Brighton Pier.
As the woman walked past, she felt the man indecently assault her and yelled out “Excuse me”.
The man said he was sorry and that his arm “flung out” as he was walking past.
Shortly after, the man was stopped by police who placed him under arrest. He began to struggle and say “No”, and had to be physically restrained and handcuffed.
The first victim said she felt frustrated by the man’s conduct and now acts extra cautiously but she is “all for” the man getting help rather than being punished for his actions.
The second victim said she now feels uncomfortable wearing a bikini but also supports the man getting help.
Justice Rob Osborne said he was satisfied the man had an intellectual disability and despite treatment for harmful sexual behaviour he continued to re-offend.
“You have responded extremely well to care arrangements in the past… what the care arrangements have not been able to deliver is a safe pattern of behaviour when you’ve been released.”
The man’s lawyer Michael Sandom said his client had a number of particular difficulties in his life which he has always struggled with.
Sandom said the man does “exceptionally well” when he is under care and he will be monitored to ensure this type of offending won’t happen again.
“[The man] is a good person to deal with and is always polite and honest but has struggles in life,” he told the judge.
Crown prosecutor Mitch Mclennagan said although the Crown believed the criteria for permanent name suppression was not met, they were neutral on the matter.
The judge said it was especially important for the man to understand why these triggers to re-offend occurred when he was previously released from care.
Justice Osborne was satisfied the man met the criteria for permanent name suppression due to his intellectual disability.
The man will be detained in a special care facility due to his intellectual disability and brought back to court if he offends again within a year.
– By Emily Moorhouse, Open Justice reporter
Where to get help:
If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email [email protected]
• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station – click here for a list.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it’s not your fault.