The partner of a Napier mother charged under new child abuse laws has been sentenced to eight years and five months' imprisonment after pleading guilty to sexually abusing the woman's daughter for six years.

The Napier man, who cannot be named as it would identify the victim, appeared before Judge Tony Adeane yesterday in the Napier District Court to be sentenced on five counts of unlawful sexual connection, one of rape, two of indecent assault and two of sexual connection with a young person.

It is believed the mother is one of the first to be charged under new child abuse laws that involve being a member of the same household as her daughter, knowing she was at risk of sexual assault and rape but failing to take reasonable steps to protect her.

Upon sentencing the court heard the offending began with an isolated act when the victim was 9 years old. Further offending occurred between the ages of 11 and 13 years old.

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The man, who cried in the dock as the judge spoke, had been in a relationship with the victim's mother for 14 years and had been an otherwise hard-working and contributing member of society.

Judge Adeane said any coercion of the victim had been by non-violent means and and that the offending was the product of grooming, where consent was not involved.

The judge said the defendant was someone who had the prospect of being rehabilitated, noting his early guilty pleas, cooperation and full confessions to police.

The man's name was added to the sex offender registry.