The son of Kaipara's mayor has been jailed for more than six years for sexually abusing two girls.
Bevan Edward Tiller, the son of Kaipara Mayor Neil Tiller, was convicted by a jury in Whangarei District Court in May on three charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection of a girl aged under 16 and one charge of rape of a second girl.
Tiller, 37, told police after his arrest that if he committed the alleged offences, it would have been while he was sleepwalking. The offending took place when the girls were aged between 10 and 13.
Sentencing Tiller to six years and eight months in jail, Judge Duncan Harvey said the substantial number of character references depicted a man who, in all other aspects of his life, could be regarded as a good citizen.
He said a sense of responsibility for and an acknowledgment of the harm Tiller had done was unlikely to be achieved because he, as was his right, continued to maintain his innocence, despite the jury's verdicts.
It meant the court could not give him credit for remorse.
"There is a very real need for me to denounce this type of behaviour and to make it very clear that it is simply not acceptable in our society," Judge Harvey said.
Although Tiller was assessed as a high risk of reoffending, the Crown did not apply for a minimum non-parole period.
His lawyer, Arthur Fairley, said the reason Tiller's assessment was high was because he did not agree with the jury's verdict.
In her victim impact statement, one of the complainants said: "My life has changed and my attitude towards everything has changed.
"If my mind is not occupied frequently, I find myself thinking about the past in a very negative way, she said.
Judge Harvey said Tiller was entitled to some credit in that he had a blameless past and had been a useful, well-liked citizen admired by a large number of people. Tiller was supported in court by a large number of family and friends.
Mr Fairley confirmed an appeal had been lodged. No date has been set for the hearing.By Imran Ali