Overstayer jailed for raping teenage girl

By Katie Holland

A Tongan overstayer who raped a 17-year-old stranger in a Rotorua park in broad daylight has been jailed.

Sione Finau, 23, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court last week to eight years and four months in jail after earlier pleading guilty to one count of sexual violation by rape and two counts of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

No minimum non-parole period was imposed. However, he will be deported back to Tonga when he is released from jail.

In sentencing, Judge Chris McGuire said about 6.40am on February 18 this year, the victim was walking home from a friend's house, having waited until it was light and therefore safer to do so.

At the corner of Sunset Rd and Pedlar St Finau joined her and attempted to strike up a conversation.

When she declined his offer to walk with her, he pulled her towards Linton Park.

She broke free and ran away across the open playing fields, kicking off her jandals so she could run faster.

However, Finau chased her and tackled her to the ground.

He punched her before dragging her into a secluded area of the park and  subjected her to a 40-minute rape that left her with internal injuries.

According to the police summary of facts, Finau began to cry toward the end and told her several times he was sorry for what he was doing. The victim eventually escaped and ran towards Edmund Rd where a walker called police.

Finau was arrested nearby  _ easily identifiable  from his dyed blue hair and distinctive tattoo.

Rotorua Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon said there were a number of aggravating factors in the rape, including the added violence, the duration of the attack and the fact the harm to the victim was "quite profound''.

She said there was also an element of abduction as the victim was restrained several times.

Although Finau was drunk when he committed the offence, Ms Gordon said he knew at the time how wrong his conduct was.

"Be careful of his expressions of remorse that come before the court,'' she said.

Ms Gordon said despite strong Crown evidence from the outset, Finau did not plead guilty until October which added to the uncertainty and stress for the victim.

Finau's lawyer, Harry Edward, said his client had no previous convictions and was remorseful.

"It's a tragedy for this young man that he's done what he did but it appears he has serious alcohol problems.''

However, Judge McGuire said Finau knew exactly what he was doing and the effect on  the young victim had been "quite catastrophic''.

"What you did Mr Finau was violent, it was of long duration, it was cruel, it was demeaning, it was criminal and it has left the victim with lasting harm,'' he said.

"In broad daylight she should have felt safe to walk home through suburban Rotorua.''


- Rotorua Daily Post

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