An HIV-positive Rotorua man who sexually violated a younger man has been sent to prison for four and a half years.

Timi Hohepa, 51, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court today after pleading guilty at the start of his scheduled trial last year to a charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

Although the victim, who was 18 at the time, did not contract HIV, he constantly lived in fear he would contract the disease, the court heard.

On the night of the offending, Hohepa, the victim and others were drinking at a barbecue. About 11pm, everyone left apart from the victim and Hohepa.

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Judge Tony Snell said the victim fell asleep in a chair and woke in the early hours of the morning to find Hohepa performing a sexual act on him.

A powerful victim impact statement was read to the court on behalf of the victim.

In it he said that although tests had shown he had not contracted HIV, he had to take anti-viral medication for five weeks that made him feel unwell and resulted in dramatic weight loss.

The victim said in his statement Hohepa had "groomed" him by befriending him.

"I considered you a member of our family. You encouraged me to drink alcohol so I passed out so you could sexually assault me."

The victim said to do that knowing he was HIV-positive was "appalling".

"I feel betrayed, hurt and lost ... I trusted you ... I can't trust the world around me and I hurt emotionally on a daily basis."

He said he couldn't continue a normal life and didn't want to meet new people.

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"I am constantly exhausted from reliving this terror you put me through."

The victim said he hoped Hohepa was jailed for a long time and that while inside he addressed whatever it was that made him have those "depraved and sick" thoughts.

The victim said he was determined to see out the court case and not let this ruin his life.

"You didn't expect me to tell my family what happened. You thought you were going to get away with it. I will heal and I will recover ... I am strong."

Judge Snell said Hohepa had been jailed in 2008 for a similar offence. He also had five other unrelated convictions.

A pre-sentence report said Hohepa denied he was at fault and claimed the victim consented. The report said he only pleaded guilty so he would get a shorter jail term.

Since then, Hohepa had acknowledged he was at fault and had written a letter of remorse to the court.

Judge Snell said he considered Hohepa's offending predatory. The victim had described Hohepa as a kaumatua of their community and Judge Snell said he was a man considered "a keeper of traditions and whakapapa".

In declining Crown Solicitor Amanda Gordon's request to impose a minimum period of imprisonment, Judge Snell said he had a word of advice for Hohepa.

"If you continue to deny the offending or put the blame on the victim, you will not be accepted to do the courses in prison you are eligible for."

Judge Snell said if Hohepa did not complete those courses, he would not be considered for parole.