In spite of being seen as a high-risk sex offender, Anthony Weke Tuimata has avoided an open-ended prison term of preventive detention for his latest indecencies with a girl.

In the High Court at Christchurch yesterday Justice Graham Panckhurst said the lower scale of the offending in this case meant preventive detention could only be imposed if it was "exceptional", and he imposed a five-and-a-half-year jail term instead.

It is the third time Tuimata, 53, has stood in the High Court dock facing a long jail term.

In Wellington in 1988 he was jailed for life for the murder of his partner who he stabbed to death when their relationship broke down.

He was released on parole in 1999 but within months was arrested in Christchurch for unlawful sexual connection with a 17-year-old girl and jailed for six years.

He served all of that sentence and was released in 2006 and the present round of offending took place after that, involving a girl aged 12 and 13.

Tuimata had not touched her, but had repeatedly asked her to do a dance routine for him and told her it was sexy. He had also coerced her into staying in a room while he masturbated with pornography playing on the television or with magazines present. He was shielded by a cushion.

He had pleaded guilty during trial to a charge of doing an indecent act with a girl aged under 16.

Defence counsel Richard Peters urged Justice Panckhurst to impose a finite prison term that would allow Tuimata to attend the Kia Marama rehabilitation programme at Rolleston for sex offenders while in jail.

Crown prosecutor Tim Mackenzie said that the Parole Board had released Tuimata twice and he had gone on to commit sex offences.

"Whenever he's been out of prison there has been sustained offending."

Justice Panckhurst said there would be no reduction for Tuimata's guilty plea because he had only entered it after the complainant had given her evidence at the Christchurch District Court trial.

Two psychologists assessed Tuimata as a high risk of further serious offending. One of them provided an opinion that he had "limited social support, unstable relationships, emotion identification with children, hostility towards women, difficulty with general social rejection, self-focus and lack of concern for others, an inability to consider the consequences of his actions, poor problem solving skills, and negative emotionality."

He was also seen as having a preoccupation with sex, using sex as a coping device, and deviant sexual preferences.

The judge noted that Tuimata had been a good participant in rehabilitation courses but there was nothing to suggest his behaviour had changed.

Justice Panckhurst said he had reached the view that preventive detention would be a disproportionate response to the latest offending. He increased the jail term for Tuimata's prior convictions which also include numerous burglaries dating back to the early 1970s.

He also imposed a minimum non-parole term of three years eight months.

Tuimata had been recalled to prison to serve further time after his arrest on the indecency charge.