Man admits street attack on girl, 14

By Trevor Quinn

A 23-year-old man has pleaded guilty to pulling a 14-year-old girl off the street and raping her in Masterton last year.

James Amau Fruean, a Samoan forestry worker, pleaded guilty in Masterton District Court yesterday to rape, abduction with sexual intent and unlawful sexual connection.

He also pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge of indecent assault on an 18-year-old student in Wellington on August 21.

Two additional charges connected to the Masterton case, robbery and assault with intent to commit rape, were withdrawn by police.

Fruean, who was aided by an interpreter, appeared in court in a white T-shirt and blue jeans. He looked calm during the short hearing.

Defence lawyer Ian Hard said the accused was being supported by his wife, mother and father. Mr Hard asked for the case to be moved to Auckland District Court so his Auckland-based family could support him.

Sergeant Garry Wilson, prosecuting, opposed the request, saying it would prevent the victims and their families from attending court.

Judge Michael Behrens said while the accused could potentially serve his sentence in Auckland, it was more appropriate for him to be sentenced in Masterton.

The police summary said on September 29 about 9.30pm the 14-year-old victim was walking along the northern end of Colombo Rd.

Fruean was riding a mountain bike near the intersection of Lakeview School when he saw the girl crossing the road and began to follow her.

Shortly before the Waipoua River Bridge he stopped her and knocked her on to the lime track which leads to Henley Lake. He then dragged the victim to an area of long grass along the river bank and raped her, at one point threatening to "bash her" if she wasn't quiet.

After the ordeal the victim escaped by pretending to befriend the accused, saying she had lost her cellphone and running away when he went to look for it.

Police said the incident had a profound emotional and psychological effect on her.

When the accused was spoken to by police he initially told them that on the day of the attack he was at an associate's house drinking alcohol before cycling home.

Judge Behrens remanded the accused in custody until May 2 for sentencing.


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