Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Tactless judge horrifies parents

The accused is led away from court. Photo / APN
The accused is led away from court. Photo / APN

The parents of a five-year-old European girl who was raped at a Turangi campground are horrified by a judge's comments that her alleged attacker looked "very smart".

The parents urged Judge Jocelyn Munro to consider their daughter's feelings after the judge also invited the alleged attacker's mother to read out a prayer by her 16-year-old son that asked God to make him a man.

In a statement, the parents, who have had to remain in New Zealand until their daughter is well enough to travel, say the remarks, made at a court hearing last week, were out of place. "We urge the court to consider the impact this has had and will continue to have for years on our daughter and our family," they said.

"We find it difficult to believe that this boy who did this to our daughter three weeks ago can write beautiful prayers to God now.

"Our daughter was fast asleep when this boy violated her and stole something from her that can never be returned.

"We felt the judge's comment about the offender's smart looking [appearance] was out of place. We were concerned when we read them. We hope that we will be represented well in the court."

Officials also confirmed for the first time yesterday that the girl had lost some of her teeth in the attack.

The December 21 incident at a Turangi campsite led to an outpouring of national shame.

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said New Zealand had been "disgusted" by the case. "The outpouring of donations and shame reflects how New Zealanders are feeling and the judge has got it wrong."

Judge Munro's comments provoked widespread concern on internet forums and social networking sites.

The little girl had to undergo four hours of surgery at Waikato Hospital. The surgeon who performed facial reconstruction surgery on her was disturbed by her injuries.

A trust fund set up for the girl has risen to $61,000.

The alleged attacker indicated through his lawyer, Katherine Ewen, that he would 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.

The family again thanked the New Zealand public who continue "to send us prayers and messages".

"They have also apologised on behalf of the country those hundreds of apologies have humbled us but there is one apology we have yet to hear."

They said they would not be in court when the 16-year-old reappeared in Taupo Youth Court on Wednesday.

"Our daughter still requires help and we have placed our trust in the experts at Waikato Hospital. Nevertheless, we want the court to consider the seriousness of the case and produce a ruling accordingly."

The accused's mother has said that he had been portrayed as a monster by the media and angry locals had abused her family.

- Herald on Sunday

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