Man jailed for sex attack in park

By Katie Holland of The Daily Post -
Linton Park, Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner
Linton Park, Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner

An overstayer who raped a 17-year-old stranger in a Rotorua park has been jailed.

Sione Finau, 23, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court to eight years and four months in jail after earlier pleading guilty to one count of sexual violation by rape and two counts of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

No minimum non-parole period was imposed. Finau will be deported to Tonga when he is released from jail.

In sentencing, Judge Chris McGuire said Finau struck up a conversation with his victim as she walked home from a friend's house early on February 18. She had waited until it was light thinking she would be safe.

When the woman declined Finau's offer to walk with her, he grabbed her. She broke free but Finau caught up with her, tackled her to the ground and raped her for 40 minutes in a park.

According to the police summary of facts, Finau began to cry toward the end and told her several times he was sorry for what he was doing.

The victim eventually escaped and ran towards Edmund Rd where a passerby called police.

Finau was arrested nearby - easily identifiable from his dyed blue hair and distinctive tattoo.

Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon said there were a number of aggravating factors in the rape, including the added violence, the duration of the attack and the fact the harm to the victim was "quite profound".

She said there was also an element of abduction as the victim was restrained several times.

Although Finau was drunk when he committed the offence, Ms Gordon said he knew at the time how wrong his conduct was.

"Be careful of his expressions of remorse that come before the court," she said.

Ms Gordon said despite strong Crown evidence from the outset, Finau did not plead guilty until October which added to the uncertainty and stress for the victim.

Finau's lawyer, Harry Edward, said his client had no previous convictions and was remorseful.

"It's a tragedy for this young man that he's done what he did but it appears he has serious alcohol problems."

However, Judge McGuire said Finau knew exactly what he was doing and the effect on the young victim had been "quite catastrophic".

"What you did Mr Finau was violent, it was of long duration, it was cruel, it was demeaning, it was criminal and it has left the victim with lasting harm," he said.

"In broad daylight she should have felt safe to walk home through suburban Rotorua."

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