A courageous rape victim confronted her attacker in court on Friday and told him he had stolen 10 years of her life and that she nearly killed herself because of his "disgusting" act.
In an emotional hearing, the woman wept and was comforted by her partner as she read out her strongly-worded victim impact report before her rapist, Barry Rikihana Farrell, was jailed for nine years.
Farrell, a father whose name suppression was lifted at yesterday's sentencing in Tauranga District Court, faced his victim and apologised.
Farrell broke into a caravan where his victim, then 17, was sleeping in Mount Maunganui nearly 10 years ago - and raped her. The victim had all but given up hope he would be caught - until he was identified after being swabbed for DNA because of drug offending.
In April, he pleaded guilty to charges of burglary, unlawful sexual connection and sexual violation by rape in the face of DNA evidence.
The victim yesterday told Farrell he had nearly destroyed her life.
"I was an innocent 17-year-old girl when you raped me and stole my life. Do I hate you? Yes. Will I ever forgive you? No. You stole 10 years of my life. Do I believe you're sorry for your disgusting act of raping me? No ... Now you finally get to suffer the pain and heartache," she said.
"I went on a destructive path. My mental health went from bad to worse. I was in and out of counselling. I had a serious drinking problem that got so bad, I started to have liver damage."
The victim also said she lost custody of her son because of her fragile mental state.
"I hit rock-bottom where I even tried to take my own life because I just couldn't handle all the pain and emotions ... You screwed me up and now I want you to finally feel the responsibility of your actions ... Now I can get justice that I've been waiting for, for a very long time ... I was shocked and disgusted ... You deserve everything that's coming to you."
Farrell read his brief letter of apology to his weeping victim after hearing from her.
He said he was "very ashamed' about what he had done and apologised for the trauma he had caused her and family over the past decade.
It was "totally out of character" and he hoped in time his victim and her family were able to "forgive and forget".
"I hope my sentence is healing for you and your family. I truly am very sorry," he said.
Crown prosecutor Heidi Wrigley revealed Farrell claimed he was stoned at the time and the victim had earlier flirted with him. She sought a jail sentence starting at 10-11 years before discounts for mitigating factors and guilty plea.
Outside court, the victim told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend she was relieved Farrell had gone to jail for as long as he did.
"I can't believe his family have stood by him, and I think it's a huge slap in the face hearing all that crap about him being stoned and suggesting I was flirting with him before he raped me. That's sick. At the end of the day, there is a huge message here to other victims to never give up hope, never stop fighting for justice."
A spokesperson from Farrell's family, who spoke on condition they were not identified, said none of the family knew about his offending and were all shocked, and have rallied to support his young daughter. "We really feel for the victim and hope the whanau from both families can get some closure."