Man convicted over underage relationship

By Kelli Hooks of The Wairarapa Times-Age -
File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A Masterton man who claimed his underage girlfriend would report him to the police if he broke off their relationship has been convicted.

Eru Michael Timoti, 27, factory worker, continued to have sex with the girl, for well over a year, despite knowing it was illegal. He was sentenced to 200 hours' community work and 18 months' intensive supervision when he appeared in Masterton District Court on Monday.

Timoti last month pleaded guilty to the charge of sexual connection with a girl aged between 12 and 16.

The charge related to a sexual relationship with a girl he initially thought was 17, but continued to have sex with after learning she was 14.

In summing up, Judge Bill Hastings said defence lawyer Jock Blathwayt submitted one reason for the relationship continuing was because the girl threatened to inform police unless Timoti maintained the relationship.

"Once the relationship ended, she did exactly that," Mr Blathwayt said.

Judge Hastings said the maximum penalty was 10 years' jail; it was a "serious charge". He said the girl was aged 14 and 15 at the time of the incidents.

"You met the complainant through mutual friends, in May 2011, and developed a friendship; she initially told you she was 17 years old.

"That friendship turned into a sexual relationship; she later told you she was only 14 years old, with that knowledge you continued to have sexual intercourse with her and the relationship continued after that, despite protests from the complainant's mother and grandparents," Judge Hastings said.

It had been reported earlier that police said in April last year the girl was taken to the Masterton police station by family and admitted having sex with Timoti but did not want to make a formal complaint.

Police spoke to her again two months later. She again admitted the sexual encounters but insisted she did not want to make a formal complaint, and in the same month Timoti refused to comment on the matter. He was again warned but the two continued their sexual liaison.

Two months ago they ended their relationship and the girl told police of having sex with Timoti when she was aged 14 and 15.

Judge Hastings said he had to "denounce the conduct" with a punitive aspect of sentencing to prevent others from committing the same or similar offence, and to prohibit the likelihood of Timoti reoffending.

A period of intensive supervision for 18 months was imposed, with special conditions that Timoti have a psychiatric assessment and attend counselling or programmes, if assessed as suitable.

The judge also imposed any counselling, treatment or programmes deemed fit by probation, alongside the community work.

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