Graphic warning

An Auckland man inflicted "sadistic and unprecedented" violence on his family for 15 years in a case thought to be one of the worst family violence cases of its kind in New Zealand.

The 46-year-old can't be named to prevent identification of his victims, who have statutory name suppression. He shook his head throughout the sentencing at the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday, where he was jailed for 12 years by Justice Mathew Downs.

His lawyer John Kovacevich told the court his client continued to deny the offending and the man maintained the victims had been "brainwashed" into laying complaints.

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The scale of the violence over the lengthy period made it difficult for Crown prosecutor Fiona Culliney to find case law that assisted with the sentencing, the court was told.

Culliney said in court it was "fortunate" the defendant wasn't facing a charge of murder considering the seriousness of the offending, and told Justice Downs there was no charge in the Crimes Act that fully encapsulated the "sadistic" torment inflicted on his partner and their children.

The man was found guilty at trial of 38 charges including wounding with intent, injuring with intent, assault with a weapon, common assault, assault on a child, male assaults female, and breaching a protection order; and plead guilty to a further charge of assault with intent to injure.

The worst of the violence involved beating the woman around the head so often she went blind in one eye, throwing a jug of boiling water on her, throwing a soup bowl, a hairbrush and a mug at her head- scarring her- disfiguring her ear, and hitting her with a car door so violently the woman miscarried.

In one episode he drove into her with his car, pinning her between the car and garage door, and sat in the idling vehicle watching her for a period while she screamed in pain. Sometimes he ordered her into the cold night naked before welcoming her back with a hot bath and cup of tea.

The violence was witnessed by six of the couple's seven children, who were also assaulted. They were beaten with a wooden belt, thrown down stairs and into walls, and assaulted with various weapons around the home, according to the summary of facts.

The only child not assaulted wasn't living in the family home.

The man exerted huge control over the family, including forbidding the children from leaving the home to play with others, phoning his partner, a student, multiple times during the day, controlling the finances, and keeping her identification. He prevented her from seeking medical attention and after breaking her wrist during one attack, she made her own splint and the break didn't heal properly.

The court heard the man encouraged the children to denigrate their mother and forced them to find weapons around the home to assault her with.

"The result was a climate of fear and control in a household dominated by your violence," Justice Downs said. "Your offending appears to be of unprecedented seriousness." The only other offending in case law comparable was described by a previous sentencing Judge as 'about as bad as it can get'.

"Sadly, there's is always a more serious case, and for the moment, yours is it," Justice Downs said.

The woman and her children didn't provide victim impact statements to the court, their explanation being they wanted to move on with their lives, having had to go through the ordeal of giving evidence during the trial.

In sentencing him to 12 years imprisonment Justice Downs ordered he serve at least six years.

'IT'S ONLY GOOD LUCK SHE'S STILL ALIVE'

Women's Refuge chief executive Ang Jury described the case as "horrific" and encouraged people who knew of family violence situations to contact authorities where possible.

"Reach out. Don't try and deal with it yourself. Reach out to people that can offer good advice. Reach out to the police. Reach out to refuges. Don't ignore it. It's only really good luck that she's still alive," Jury said.

She said it was "astonishing" the authorities hadn't been alerted to the violence. "There had to be people there, people in her life, that knew what was going on."

It wasn't clear from the sentencing how the woman finally left the violence- aside from Justice Downs' remark that she left at the end of 2014- but Jury said the woman was brave to leave.

"She would have had to place her trust in an agency. She needed to place her faith in them to act straight away, and to move them all at once."

Police declined to comment on the case.

If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz