Man jailed for sex attack on tourist

By Abigail Hartevelt of The Daily Post -
File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A tourist who was sexually attacked in an alleyway as she headed home after a night out was so scared she urinated, the Rotorua District Court has been told.

Whetu Benjamin Pullan, 27, a Turangi bushman, appeared in court today for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to indecently assaulting a woman in an alleyway behind a Taupo backpackers.

Judge Chris McGuire sentenced Pullan to three years' jail.

About 10.30pm on August 30 the victim, who was on a working holiday in New Zealand, walked back to a Taupo backpackers and after trying unsuccessfully to use the key code to get in, she went down an alleyway behind the backpackers to use that entrance.

Pullan followed the victim down the alleyway. He ran towards her and she raised her hands in defence. Pullan pushed her into the entranceway and forced her to the ground. He put his hand over her mouth and told her to ``shut up''. He attempted to pull down her leggings and she tried to pull them up.

He forced his hand inside her leggings.

She had difficulty breathing as Pullan was on top of her.

"She was so petrified she urinated,'' Judge McGuire said.

The victim managed to get to her feet but Pullan was still holding her. The woman bit Pullan on the hand as she struggled to get away from him and then he ran off. The entire attack, which lasted two minutes, was caught on closed circuit television (CCTV).

On September 5 Pullan handed himself into police after seeing CCTV footage of himself in the media.

Judge McGuire said the victim suffered bruises and cuts during the attack and was unable to work the next day.

She was now a lot more wary and since the attack much of her hair had fallen out and she had not had a full night's sleep.

"It must have been the longest two minutes of that victim's life. It's little wonder that as a shock reaction she is losing hair.''

The court heard that Pullan said he could not remember the incident. However, Judge McGuire said he did not accept that and neither did the victim.

The victim had said if Pullan was calculated enough to follow someone down an alleyway he must have been able to recall what happened, Judge McGuire said.

In an effort to stop late night violent attacks the people of Taupo had installed CCTV cameras, Judge McGuire said.

"It's a matter of great concern that even with that ... serious offending continued.''

Pullan had said he'd been drinking that night and had "snorted a few lines''. Pullan had previous convictions including one for being unlawfully on a property in Blenheim, which had involved following a woman, Judge McGuire said.

The starting point was four years' jail. The judge reduced the sentence to three years' jail to give Pullan credit for his guilty plea and remorse which he had expressed through a letter to the victim.

Pullan's lawyer, Katherine Ewen, said her client did not have any memory of the incident but he knew it was him who had committed it. The offending was out of character.

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