Molester jailed for eight years

Victims and their families crowded into a packed courtroom yesterday to witness a former Bay man get sentenced to eight years in prison for molesting seven girls aged between four and 14.

Minutes earlier, in the High Court at Whanganui, an atmosphere of nervous anticipation in the gallery quickly turned to one of disgust as Daniel Bell was brought into the dock.

Bell was found guilty in September last year of 13 sexual offences against children.

Following three days of deliberating, the jury of five men and seven women found the 39-year-old guilty of a raft of indecency charges against six young girls, and not guilty on 10 counts of raping a child.

He was also found not guilty of two indecent acts, two unlawful sexual connections, and one indecent assault. He also pleaded guilty at the beginning of his trial to indecency with a girl aged 12-16.

In addition to the eight years jail, Justice David Collins ordered he serve a minimum non-parole period of five years.

One victim tearfully read out her impact statement to the court, and 11 more statements were read by officer in charge Senior Constable Tanya Ross.

Bell's offending started in 1999, when he indecently touched a four-year-old girl.

He was previously convicted in Napier, in January 2014, of three indecent assault charges, and sentenced to two years imprisonment.

"The trauma experienced by the victims as a result of this offending has been significant, and I know that reliving the trauma by giving evidence has been extremely difficult," Ms Ross said after sentencing. "I applaud them for their courage in coming forward, and I hope that today's sentence will contribute to their healing."

As Bell was taken from the courtroom, the father of one victim called out, telling him to "die in prison, you p***".

The details of the victim impact statements, as well as submissions from Crown prosecutor Harry Mallalieu and defence lawyer Fergus Steedman, were suppressed by Justice Collins.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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