A High Court judge today questioned whether sentences imposed for child sex abusers adequately addressed "the sheer evil" of the crime.
Justice John Priestley made his comments in the High Court at Rotorua when sentencing a 51-year-old Tokoroa man to 13 and a half years in prison for 18 sexual offences against his daughter.
The man, whose name is suppressed, was convicted on nine rape charges, three sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection charges and six of indecent assault.
The offending began when the girl was five and continued until she was 21, the court was told.
Justice Priestley said he questioned whether sentences imposed had grappled adequately with the "sheer evil" which sexual abuse of children, particularly young children, encompasses.
"You used your own daughter for your own sexual gratification," Justice Priestley told the man.
Parliament had stipulated a 20 year maximum sentence for rape and Justice Priestley said the starting point in this case should be 15 to 16 years.
"I believe such an approach is consistent with what Parliament wants and also consistent with what the New Zealand public expects."
Justice Priestley told the man he was obliged to temper his approach in sentencing him because the bulk of his offending took place when the maximum penalty was 14 years.
The man had shown little remorse and although he had confessed when his daughter reported the offending to police he had pleaded not guilty and persisted with the trial.
Justice Priestley said sexual abuse of family members was a particularly pernicious and unacceptable form of sexual offending.
"Such crimes are committed against a particularly vulnerable and helpless section of society who are in fact its more precious assets."
A child was entitled to a caregiver or parent for nurture, guidance and a safe physical and emotional environment, Justice Priestley said.
At the end of the trial jury members were deeply distressed at how the offending affected the daughter.
She had shown great strength of character and although she hated her father for what he had done to her she still acknowledged that he was her father and loved him.
- DAILY POST (ROTORUA)