Deportee jailed for Loop Walkway sexual attack on young woman

By imran ali

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Whangarei public show their disgust at the attack by participating in a Reclaim the Loop march.
PHOTO/ALEX NEWLOVE
Whangarei public show their disgust at the attack by participating in a Reclaim the Loop march. PHOTO/ALEX NEWLOVE

A vicious attack on a Whangarei woman abducted while jogging on the popular Hatea Loop Walkway and sexually abused was carried out by a deportee from Australia who suffered from sexual preoccupation.

Haydn Teoneroa Christy had a serious problem with drug and alcohol abuse and also smoked meth when he carried out the attack at 6.30am on April 29.

The 40-year-old, who affiliates to Ngati Kahungunu in the Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa areas, was jailed for 12 years by the High Court in Whangarei yesterday after he earlier pleaded guilty to seven charges.

They were four charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, one of abduction for the purpose of sexual violation, one of threatening to kill, and another of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

A minimum period of imprisonment of eight years was imposed.

Suppression orders mean the reason behind Christy's deportation from Australia and his previous convictions could not be revealed in detail.

However, Justice Christian Whata said Christy was deported eight years ago and left behind his partner of 17 years and six children

A bespectacled and bearded Christy sat with head bowed throughout his sentencing while the victim, surrounded by police detectives and Victim Support staff, sat in the public gallery.

The woman, in her early 20s, spent days in hospital recovering from injuries and has since moved out of Whangarei.

She filed a victim support statement but chose not to read it out in court.

The attack caused outrage in the city and sparked a Reclaim Our Loop rally that saw more than 1000 people take to the loop two days later in a show of solidarity for the woman.

The attack also saw the Whangarei District Council bring forward plans to have lighting on part of the loop and to put in CCTV cameras, which are now up and running.

Reading from the summary of facts in court, Justice Whata said Christy made a U-turn after driving past the woman jogging on the walkway and stopped his car about 100 metres ahead of her.

When she went past him, Christy ran behind and rugby-tackled her, and both ended up on the bank of the Hatea River.

He punched and hit her with rocks several times, causing her to lose a significant amount of blood.

Justice Whata said Christy threatened to kill her if she did not shut up.

He then took her to his house where he switched on a pornography movie before sexually violating her.

The woman was then driven into town and dumped at the intersection of Third Ave and Kauika Rd. Christy was arrested the same day.

Crown prosecutor Nicole Dore said the attack not only caused the victim harm but also the wider community.

"This is a new walking track that the community is very proud of and incidents of such nature does shake the community to its core," she said.

The Crown called for a sentence of preventive detention but Justice Whata said Christy's remorse and positive rehabilitative prospects did not justify it.

Defence lawyer Arthur Fairley said Christy acknowledged what happened to the young woman was "horrendously horrible" but he was not someone who wanted to absolve responsibility for the attack.

Justice Whata said Christy started smoking cannabis as a teenager and methamphetamine when he turned 24.

He could not remember what triggered the latest offending but he needed to undertake special rehabilitative steps to treat his drug and alcohol abuse.

The victim, he said, suffered from brain trauma, headaches and dizziness that stopped her from doing simple things such as exercising.

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai said the wonderful work by police, coupled with Christy's early guilty plea and the relatively swift court process, contributed to a sense of justice occurring in a timely way.

She thanked the public for showing solidarity and for taking action to reclaim the walkway.

"The increasing popularity of this amenity may have something to do with their determination not to be deterred from enjoying it."

- Northern Advocate

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