Sexual assault victim's father: 'Die in prison, you prick'

By Melissa Nightingale -
Daniel Bell was sentenced him to eight years in prison. Photo / Stuart Munro
Daniel Bell was sentenced him to eight years in prison. Photo / Stuart Munro

Victims and their families crowded into courtroom one in Whanganui yesterday for the sentencing of a man who molested seven girls aged between 4 and 14.

An atmosphere of nervous anticipation in the gallery quickly turned to one of disgust as Daniel Bell was brought into the dock.

It was not long before many people in the group of about 20 were clutching tissues or pressing their hands to their mouths to hold back sobs.

Bell was found guilty in September last year of 13 sexual offences against children.

Following three days of deliberating, the jury of five men and seven women declared 39-year-old Bell guilty of a raft of indecency charges against six young girls, and not guilty on 10 counts of raping a child. He was also found not guilty of two indecent acts, two unlawful sexual connections, and one indecent assault.

He also pleaded guilty at the beginning of his trial to indecency with a girl aged 12-16.

Bell appeared in the High Court at Whanganui yesterday, where Justice David Collins sentenced him to eight years in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of five years.

One victim tearfully read out her victim impact statement to the court, and 11 more statements were read out by officer in charge Senior Constable Tanya Ross.

The details of the victim impact statements, as well as submissions from Crown prosecutor Harry Mallalieu and defence lawyer Fergus Steedman, were suppressed by Justice Collins, as Bell faces another trial on similar charges.

Bell's offending started in 1999, when he indecently touched a four-year-old girl.

He was previously convicted in Napier, in January 2014, of three indecent assault charges, and sentenced to two years imprisonment.

"The trauma experienced by the victims as a result of this offending has been significant, and I know that reliving the trauma by giving evidence has been extremely difficult," said Ms Ross in a press statement. "I applaud them for their courage in coming forward, and I hope that today's sentence will contribute to their healing."

As Bell was taken from the courtroom, the father of one victim called out, telling him to "die in prison, you prick".

The man said he would kill Bell himself. People could be heard crying as they left the courtroom, while others hugged Ms Ross.

Bell's next trial will be held in Wellington.

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