17-year sentence for sexual offences

By Melissa Nightingale

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LOCKED UP: Peter Robert Doyle stands in the dock during his sentencing in the Whanganui District Court.
LOCKED UP: Peter Robert Doyle stands in the dock during his sentencing in the Whanganui District Court.

A man who raped and indecently assaulted young girls was sentenced to 17 years in prison yesterday.

Peter Robert Doyle, 51, will serve a minimum of eight-and-a-half years of his sentence before being eligible for parole, Judge Thomas Ingram ruled in the Whanganui District Court.

Following a trial in May, a jury found Doyle guilty of 41 offences, including indecently touching the victims, rubbing himself against them, rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

Doyle's three victims - who were abused starting at the ages 9 and 10 and are now adults - each read their victim impact statements in court yesterday.

"So much of my youth was wasted. Why? Because of Peter Doyle," the first victim said. She remembered "the shame, the guilt, the anger, the pain, the suffering" and noted how she turned to alcohol and cannabis to cope, and thought about suicide every day. However, she "didn't want Peter to think he had won".

"I didn't want to die with my secret," she said.

The victim sees a counsellor regularly and takes daily medication for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The second victim said she "didn't think what was happening was wrong" when she was a child, but now she had trouble trusting males.

"I thought about killing myself by jumping off the Dublin Street Bridge," she said, adding she, too, was receiving counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"To this day I still don't understand why he did this to me. I'm still here today because of the support of family and the support I have had from other people."

The third victim said the abuse would stay with her for the rest of her life.

She was unable to finish reading her statement through her tears, and had a victim support person read it for her.

The statement spoke of self-confidence issues, bad behaviour throughout her childhood, and being bullied by other girls at school who found out when she first complained about the abuse and wasn't believed. She has been diagnosed with depression and takes medication and sleeping pills as she struggles to relax at night.

Judge Ingram said there were no mitigating features in Doyle's case, but five aggravating features. They were the vulnerability of the victims, the "gross abuse of trust", premeditation and manipulation, the scale and repetition of the offending, and the enormous emotional harm Doyle caused.

He said Doyle had previous convictions for sexual connection with an underage girl and indecent exposure, but these were too long ago to affect sentencing.

A pre-sentence report noted Doyle continued to maintain his innocence, demonstrated no empathy or insight to his offending, and was at high risk of re-offending.

"This case is near the worst of its kind," Judge Ingram said.

He gave Doyle a 17-year prison sentence, close to the maximum sentence of 20 years.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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