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Turangi teen: 'Make me a man'

By Laurilee McMichael of the Rotorua Daily Post -
The youth charged with the Turangi tourist attack being led into the Taupo Courthouse last month. Photo / Stephen Parker
The youth charged with the Turangi tourist attack being led into the Taupo Courthouse last month. Photo / Stephen Parker

The 16-year-old boy charged with a brutal attack on a five-year-old girl at a Turangi campground has asked God to "make me a man, without hate, anger and stress''.

The teenager whose name is suppressed, appeared in the Taupo Youth Court today and indicated that he intends to plead guilty to charges of burglary and sexual violation by rape, as well as a third charge of aggravated wounding that was amended to causing grievous bodily harm.

He was neatly dressed in a tie and blue shirt and stood quietly beside his lawyer Katherine Ewen with his head bowed.

In contrast to his last appearance after his arrest in December, there was no crowd outside the courthouse waiting to catch a glimpse of him as he was led into the courtroom. He was supported by a group of family members, including both his parents.

Judge Jocelyn Munro told the boy he was looking very smart and said she had read a letter he had written. She had also been told that he had written a karakia, or prayer, and invited his mother to read it out.

His mother read his karakia in both te reo Maori and English in which the teenager asked God to "make me a man, without hate, anger and stress''.

Judge Munro told the teenager that although he had indicated to the court that he intended to plead guilty, the plea could not be entered at today's appearance. This was because a family group conference, scheduled for this weekend, would need to be held first. Following that, the youth would have to reappear in the Youth Court for the judge to hear submissions from the police and Mrs Ewen.

The boy was remanded to a youth justice facility. He is due to reappear again in the Taupo Youth Court next Wednesday, where he will have the opportunity to plead and there will be a discussion on where he will be sentenced.

The five-year-old tourist from Belgium was attacked as she slept in a caravan at a Turangi campground on Wednesday December 21. She suffered serious injuries, including head and facial injuries and had to undergo four hours of surgery at Waikato Hospital. At that time, police described her injuries as "significant and heartwrenching''.

The charge of aggravated wounding was withdrawn at today's hearing. The new charge which replaces it describes her as suffering grievous bodily harm. The maximum penalty of 14 years in prison remains the same.

The maximum penalties for sexual violation by rape and burglary are 20 years and 10 years in prison respectively.

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