Judge’s ‘heart-break’ for woman: Man jailed for sexual abuse of daughter

A Dunedin man who sexually abused his daughter for more than a decade has been jailed for seven and a-half years.

The man — aged in his 60s — took the case to trial and was found guilty by a jury on four charges featuring a range of acts which started when the victim was only 5 and ended in the 1990s when she was 16.

The defendant, whose name was suppressed to protect the identity of his daughter, emphatically denied the crimes when he was interviewed by police and remained “unmoved”, the court heard at the Dunedin District Court sentencing recently.

Judge John Macdonald expressed some surprise at the man’s stance.

“Can I just say, for what it’s worth, that I have been a judge for nearly 31 years, and I have seen and heard many victims of sexual abuse,” he said.

“The account your daughter gave was one of the most compelling I have heard. Listening to her victim impact statement the word that came to mind was ‘heart-breaking’.”

During the trial, the judge said, it became apparent there was something of a community intervention to address the defendant’s alcohol use.

Had he dealt with that as he promised, the allegations may never have surfaced.

But things changed when the victim herself became a mother.

“She believed that if you could sexually abuse your own daughter then how could she be sure you would not touch another child,” Judge Macdonald said.

The violations had occurred so often, the victim said she could not remember a time when it was not happening.

It usually took place after the defendant had been drinking, the jury heard at trial.

“She lived in a house where there was an ever-present threat of violence, particularly when you had been drinking,” the judge said.

“What you did … involved a gross breach of trust. Indeed, it does not get much worse than this.”

The court heard these were not the only convictions accrued by the defendant.

He appeared in court on another sexual matter as well as being sentenced for violence in the years following the abuse of his daughter.

Defence counsel Anne Stevens QC argued her client should get credit for the work he had done through his church and raised the fact that the man had been sexually assaulted during his youth.

“Given your denial, I am not so sure that the sexual abuse you claim to have suffered [overseas] has any particular relevance at all,” Judge Macdonald said.

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