Paraparaumu man who beat stepdaughter's rapist Jason Haward says he will appeal guilty verdict

By Melissa Nightingale

The Paraparaumu man who assaulted his stepdaughter's rapist says he plans to appeal the guilty verdict given by a jury last week, even if the judge lets him off without a sentence.

"I'm going to appeal it no matter if it's a conviction and discharge," he told the Herald.

"It's been a matter of principle from the start."

He was charged with injuring with intent to injure after assaulting his stepdaughter's rapist, Jason Haward, in April last year. Haward was convicted earlier this year of the rape, but the father was told this week Haward would be appealing.

On the night of the rape, the father heard shrieks outside his house and found his 15-year-old stepdaughter crouching naked beside a car while Haward stood over her, grabbing at her.

Once the fight started I did lose control and I've got to admit that.

Haward told him the girl stole his wallet, but he could not explain where her clothes were. The father and the girl's mother then attacked Haward, punching him and kicking him. They were not charged for that assault.

Despite police arresting Haward at the scene, he was released later that night.

The parents, who had to arrange themselves for the girl to go through a medical examination because police were too busy with the Porirua siege to arrange it, were driving home with the evidence from the rape clinic two days later when they spotted Haward walking down the street.

The father said he hoped to hold Haward there until police arrived and he could inform them about the evidence from the rape clinic.

"I jumped out and went to grab him. Then he started with his denials and all that, tried to walk away and I told him to stay there. He went to either push me away or swing at me, I don't know which. I just moved out of the way and then I lost the plot and started hitting him."

The father said his reaction was "quite understandable", but he did regret losing the plot.

"This girl had just been raped 36 hours earlier. She'd been found in my driveway naked," he said.

I'm gutted. I really didn't expect to be found guilty at all.

On top of that, the girl was separated from her family by police until the next day, and upon her return, spent the night in her parents' room, "just sobbing".

"She wouldn't actually sleep anywhere else for about two and a half months."

The parents were then unable to get hold of police, and whenever they phoned, they were told their queries and information would be passed on when someone was assigned to the case, which the father says only happened several weeks later.

To then see Haward walking down the street and have Haward start calling his daughter a slut was too much.

"I just couldn't help myself. Once the fight started I did lose control and I've got to admit that."

A witness said Haward suffered four seizures on the way to the hospital after the assault, something which is common after a head injury.

A neurosurgeon gave evidence saying Haward had been examined and was found to have no lasting injuries. He did not suffer any seizures while in hospital and was discharged after an observation period.

The father has spent this week getting "angrier and angrier" over his guilty verdict, handed down by a jury of 11 women and one man on Monday following a trial in the Wellington District Court.

"I'm gutted. I really didn't expect to be found guilty at all," he said.

He said when he gave a police statement directly after the assault, he was told he was only being charged with disorderly behavior, but he was later charged with assault instead.

"I'm not going to give up, you know . . . I look at it this way: If I plead guilty, then my daughter has to wear the guilt of any sentence I get. It will feel like that to her, that it's her fault. 'Dad wouldn't have done what he did if I didn't get myself raped.' And I just don't think that's fair."

The father is in the process of setting up a way for people to donate to his appeal costs.

One person has already emailed his lawyer offering $5000 to help.

Despite everything, he says he wouldn't change what he did after getting out of the car that day.

"I wouldn't change one thing. I would have just hoped that things had worked out the way that they were supposed to in my mind, where the police would come, arrest him, charge him for the rape."

Area Commander Kapiti-Mana Inspector Tracey Thompson said the Porirua siege did draw on police resources, but did not affect police ability to respond to other calls for service from the public.

"Police staff attended the initial incident, which was reported as a disorder at the time," she said.

"Upon realising there may be a sexual element to the incident, the victim was transported to a place of safety (police station) and specialist investigators attended to her.

"An investigation into the allegations was commenced immediately. Police identified key pieces of evidence and secured exhibits, identified witnesses, carried out a scene examination and interviewed the alleged offender.

"For privacy reasons we are unable to discuss specific issues regarding the victim. However we can say that we worked closely with her following the incident.

"This included ensuring she received assistance from the Wellington Sexual Abuse Help Foundation."

Thompson said a "proper and thorough investigation" was carried out as soon as the matter was reported to police.

Haward was charged on May 15 last year.

"The two incidents involving the victim's stepfather cannot be compared with each other.

"Every incident police attends is different, and our staff deal with each incident as is appropriate based on the circumstances presented at the time."

- NZ Herald

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