A man who repeatedly raped his wife and choked her until her face went purple has been jailed for four and a-half years - despite the victim's pleas for home detention.

The man - aged in his 40s, whose name was permanently suppressed - sat in the dock at the Dunedin District Court sobbing and rocking back and forth throughout yesterday's sentencing.

Despite the routine ordeals his victim underwent, she sat in the public gallery in his support, also crying through the hearing.

In a statement before the court, the woman said she had no fears for her safety and worried her husband's incarceration would financially cripple the family and devastate their youngest child who was still at school.


Defence counsel David More said "paradoxically" the couple's relationship had got stronger since charges of rape and three of assault with intent to injure were laid at the start of the year.

The defendant, from south of Dunedin, maintained a not guilty stance for months before admitting the allegations after a sentencing indication in September.

The court heard every month for two years in the 1990s, the man would rape his wife.

"The victim would tell the defendant 'no'; however, the defendant would hold her down by her arms and force himself on her despite her physical and verbal protests," court documents said.

When confronted by the police, more than 20 years after the events, he admitted what happened, explained he had erectile dysfunction and that hurting the victim aroused him.

That was also evident between January 2015 and 2018.

During consensual sex, the defendant would choke or punch his partner.

"Each strangulation would last 30 to 60 seconds, often resulting in the victim's head and face turning a shade of purple, and she would be left gasping for air," a police summary said.

The assaults increased in frequency until, the man was attacking her every week for five months.

Their relationship ended last year but the defendant would still visit the family home.

And the offending continued.

On Christmas Day last year, during consensual sex, the man put a towel round the victim's throat and tightened it, placing "considerable pressure" on her neck.

Unable to remove the ligature, the woman said: "Just do it - just kill me".

He did not.

Police became involved after a January 14 incident while the pair were being intimate again.

The defendant put a pillow over the woman's face then punched her several times in the head and body.

Judge Kevin Phillips said there was no way he could come to a sentence end point of less than two years which would enable him to consider home detention.

"There has to be an appropriate response by the court to serious violent conduct and here ... we have such a case," he said.

More urged the judge to take into account the sex attacks occurred not long after rape within a marriage became a criminal offence.

Judge Phillips rejected that but took into account the defendant's previous clean record and "sincere remorse".

The judge refused to budge on his sentencing indication and said the outcome "reeked of compassion".

The defendant was not subject to the three-strikes regime because the sex offences happened before that legislation was introduced.

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you
• Run outside and head for where there are other people
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you
• Take the children with you
• Don't stop to get anything else
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisisline operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisisline 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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