An elderly man being sentenced for sexual offending against a child that happened more than 40 years ago has asked for his name to be suppressed to save his marriage.
The man’s wife swore an affidavit saying she would “separate and end my marriage” with her 82-year-old husband if he didn’t get name suppression.
But while the judge did not believe the man should get name suppression, his name still cannot be published due to a possible appeal on the decision.
The man appeared in the Wellington District Court this afternoon for sentencing on one charge of indecency with a girl under 12.
According to the summary of facts, the offending happened in the Hutt Valley in the late 70s when the victim was 11 years old.
She was asleep in the man’s home when he crept into the room and lifted the bed covers, using a torch to illuminate her body.
He touched the top of her underwear to expose her genitalia, which woke the victim, who fled. She spent the rest of the night in someone else’s bed.
In an emotional reading of her impact statement in court, the victim told the man his offending still made her sick to her stomach.
Finally having the courage to report him to the police resulted in some of his loved ones turning against the victim.
“Doing this had your immediate family judging me as the person doing wrong, and I should forget it and sweep it under the carpet as they have,” she said.
“I was not doing wrong, I was having a voice for myself.
“Even though your immediate family know what you have done they have decided to ostracise me to protect the secret.”
The victim said he had robbed her of an innocent childhood and a “peaceful, happy life”.
“I may have been your victim all those years but I am stronger, and I now have a voice and you now are being held accountable for the abuse you have done.”
The defendant looked steadily away from the victim while she spoke.
Judge Arthur Tompkins said the man had previous convictions for similar offending between 1959 - when he was 19 - and 1984. The pre-sentence report noted he had little insight into his offending and that he minimised his actions by saying he did not actually touch the victim.
“The only regret recorded is the impact this offending has had on his wife and their relationship,” the judge said.
The wife initially swore an affidavit asking the court to suppress the man’s name, but after NZME opposed the suppression application she swore a further affidavit saying she would end the 49-year marriage if his name was published.
“I really feel I could not go on with our relationship, if [his] name enters into the media, because my friends would see it,” she wrote.
“I could not cope with what people would think of me, if I were to stay in a relationship with someone convicted of child sex offending.”
She also said if his name was published she would lose a close friend who had confided in her about one of her family members being “interfered with”.
But Judge Tompkins said allowing suppression on that basis “would see the court condone [her] retaining a friendship on the basis of a lie”.
The defendant also swore an affidavit, saying every so often he would “start howling”. He said if his relationship were to end it would put him under extreme hardship due to psychological harm.
“She has always stuck by me since she found out about my history of peeping in 1984,” he said.
“All I have is my marriage, ultimately. At my age there is not much else to live for.”
Judge Tompkins declined the application, but the man’s lawyer, Joseph Griffiths, said there could be an appeal. A mandatory interim suppression order is in place until the end of the appeal period.
Griffiths said his client had struggled with “obvious difficulties with a very compulsive type of offending”. The man has not been convicted of any further offending since 1984.
Judge Tompkins sentenced him to five months of community detention and nine months of supervision.