By GREGG WYCHERLEY
Ramon Doughty thought he could get away with sexually abusing three young girls in his foster care because he knew they had nowhere to turn for help.
But yesterday, more than 30 years later, his victims watched in the High Court at Hamilton as his actions finally caught up with the man they knew as "Uncle Ray".
Doughty, 72, a retired builder of Matamata, was sentenced to seven years in prison for 16 sex charges dating back to between 1967 and 1974, when he and his wife ran Blackwood House, an Anglican trust foster home in Herne Bay.
He will be eligible for parole in about 4 1/2 years, after serving two-thirds of his sentence.
Yesterday, the women listened as prosecutor Louella Dunn told the court of Doughty's continuing denials and lack of remorse.
Comments made by Doughty in a pre-sentence report revealed a man motivated by opportunity.
"Perhaps I felt I could have had sex with this child.
"Perhaps in my position I had the power to do it without the fear of repercussions."
The report described him as "unmotivated to address his offending ... a high-risk offender". Doughty denied the charges after he was arrested last June, finally owning up to his crimes just three days before the trial was scheduled to begin on May 20.
His reasons for continuing to deny the sodomy and rape charges, even after pleading guilty in court, shocked his victims.
"He states that his reasons are because he does not want to carry out an expensive court case and incur further legal costs," said Ms Dunn.
"Even though he had admitted to these offences he didn't feel guilty."
She said Doughty had threatened one of the girls with never seeing her parents or grandmother again if she told anyone what he was doing.
Ms Dunn asked for a sentence of between 10 and 12 years, to reflect Doughty's lack of remorse and refusal to accept the harm he had caused his victims.
Defence counsel David Wilson, QC, said the prisoner denied threatening the victims, and asked for a "civilised response to an old evil".
"Justice tempered by mercy for an old man."
Justice Colin Nicholson said the seriousness of the offending was exacerbated by threats, the absence of remorse, the age of the victims, the frequency of the abuse, and the breach of trust.
"Your offending was particularly grave.
"You were, in effect, their guardian and you abused the trust which you held."
Justice Nicholson sentenced Doughty to seven years for rape, six years for one sodomy charge and five years for another, three years for an attempted rape, two years for each of the 10 indecent assault charges and three years each for two charges of inducing indecent acts.
The sentences are to be served concurrently.
The Anglican Trust For Women & Children paid $75,000 compensation to a woman Doughty abused. Two other victims are also pursuing claims.
One of the women said yesterday that even after so many years Doughty's lack of remorse came as a fresh shock.
"He thought of us as nothing as children. He did it because he had power over us and he took advantage of us because he could."
The woman who was abused on her 10th birthday at Blackwood House recalled the day in 1968 as the end of her innocence.
"My prison sentence is nearly over," she said. "Let his begin."