One of the victims of a Northland child sex offender says the morning after his abuser pleaded guilty was the first time in 40 years he had woken up feeling free.
Raymond George Melrose, 68, of Paihia, was jailed for two years and eight months yesterday for the abuse of two Auckland brothers in the 1960s and 70s. One was aged between 11 and 16 at the time, the other aged 9 to 12. Melrose was the principal of Kaikohe Christian School from 1997 until 2012, well after the abuse occurred.
He pleaded guilty on August 31, the day his trial was due to begin, after the most serious charges were dropped. The brothers eyeballed Melrose across the Kaikohe District Court yesterday as their harrowing victim impact statements were read aloud.
The older brother yesterday recounted his intense grooming by Melrose and a teenage life which had been lost and could never be recovered. He said he has had three failed marriages because "I never felt good enough ... and always felt dirty because of what he did to me".
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He still struggled to trust men who tried to befriend him and could not wait in queues because he couldn't bear anyone standing close behind him. It distressed him that he had been unable to protect his younger brother from the same fate. Their mother, too, had endured years of shame and hurt.
Melrose's belated guilty pleas had given him an intense sense of liberation.
"The morning after the court hearing I woke up feeling free of the weight of him for the first time in 45 years. It was an almost overpowering feeling that he'd finally admitted his offending, and admitted I was telling the truth."
The younger brother described his "monstrous burning anger" and how he was strong in everything he did, "but in this I am broken".
Two of the four charges - two of indecent assault, and one each of inducing a boy to do an indecent act and performing an indecent act - were representative, meaning they were for multiple offences of the same type.
Judge Duncan Harvey described the brothers' statements, and the "awful burden" they had carried for 40 years, as "shattering". While Melrose had contributed to society since then - and the court had received 21 references testifying to his good character and popularity as a principal - that had to be weighed against "grossly aggravating features" such as the duration of his grooming and abuse.
The judge reduced Melrose's sentence to take into account his age. As Melrose was led away Judge Harvey addressed the brothers: "I would like to acknowledge both of you today. I thank you for your courage."