A Rotorua businessman jailed in 2015 for serious sexual abuse - including repeatedly raping a young girl - is a free man.

Bryan Hughes has been released from prison after serving four years and one month of his 11-year jail term - less than half his sentence.

High-profile rape victim advocate Louise Nicholas says in her opinion his early release is "absolutely disgusting".

Hughes, now 63, raped and sexually abused a girl - Candy Shavin (nee Eum), then aged between 12 and 16 years - in Rotorua between 1998 and 2003. He admitted 21 charges in total, including two offences against a second girl.

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Bryan Hughes. Photo / File
Bryan Hughes. Photo / File

The offending came to light 10 years later when Shavin complained to police.

Shavin applied to the court to have her automatic name suppression lifted so she could speak out about what happened.

A New Zealand Parole Board decision, released to the Rotorua Daily Post Weekend this week, confirms Hughes was let out of jail in December.

In 2014, Hughes admitted three counts of rape, 10 of indecent assault and six of unlawful sexual connection relating to offences against Shavin. He also admitted two counts of indecently assaulting the second victim.

Some offences were representative charges, meaning the offending happened more than once.

The offending came to light 10 years later when Candy Shavin complained to police.
The offending came to light 10 years later when Candy Shavin complained to police.

Hughes was aged between 43 and 48 at the time.

He was jailed in March 2015 but his offending was not made public until July that year when a High Court judge dismissed an appeal for him to have continued name suppression.

However, Hughes' business links were permanently suppressed.

He has been eligible for parole since July 2018 and his last hearing was held on November 20 last year.

The Parole Board decision described concerns including that Hughes had "distorted views" where he viewed Shavin as his girlfriend. He described he felt entitled to engage in sexual activity with her.

The decision said Hughes denied the sexual offending against the second victim was sexually motivated.

The decision also said the board questioned Hughes closely about the fact he "minimised some of the intrusive acts" and his "cognitive distortions".

While he answered their questions, the decision noted Hughes was "skilled at deflecting questions that were uncomfortable" and had to be refocused a number of times to ensure he answered specific questions put to him.

Hughes would need to be closely monitored once released because he had demonstrated in the past he was a "skilled manipulator and deceives others close to him".

Inside prison, Hughes had no custodial issues and had been employed as an admin cleaner.

The decision said he completed the Short Intervention programme. Two psychologists reached the view Hughes has addressed his sexual offending and if he followed his safety plan, risks could be managed in the community.

The decision does not name where Hughes will live and with whom but it said he intended to undertake employment from home.

The decision said: "We are aware that Mr Hughes has a significant period to serve on his sentence. However, taking all the factors into account, the rehabilitative treatment that he has received, the work that he has done with the psychologist, and that he has discussed his release and safety plan with his key supporters, we have reached the view that the risks Mr Hughes poses to the safety of the community is not undue, and can be managed with appropriate release conditions."

His release conditions are in place for two years and include attending a psychological assessment and attending and completing any treatment or counselling as recommended by the psychological assessment.

He is not to have contact with any person 16 years or younger unless another adult, over the age of 20 who has written approval from his probation officer, is present.

He is also not to associate with his victims.

Nicholas, who supported Shavin in court when she read her victim impact statement, said she believed the parole decision was alarming.

Nicholas said given the concerns raised by the Parole Board in its decision, he should in her view have at least served three quarters of his sentence.

"When you are convicted and sentenced to 11 years, that is showing the gravity of the offending and what he is capable of. It wasn't a one-off where he got caught then says sorry he won't do it again. This went on for five years to children and yet the Parole Board let him out after four years and one month. It is absolutely disgusting."