Sexual assault on teen was heard on cellphone tracker app

While a 15-year-old boy was the unconscious victim of a sexual assault, his uncle was listening on a tracking app installed on his cellphone.

The boy – affected by alcohol and cannabis provided by his attacker, Christopher James White – had no recollection of the sexual assault.

But the uncle sent a message to White the next day, pretending to be the victim and asking what had happened. That brought a confession to the “victim”, and an admission by White to his supervisor under the Child Sex Offender Registration scheme within 48 hours.

He admitted the offending to the police, and pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to the charge of unlawful sexual connection – oral sex – with the young person.

Because of 29-year-old White’s record of offending, the District Court sent the case to the High Court to be dealt with and ordered the two health assessors’ reports necessary for an open-ended sentence of preventive detention to be considered.

That was dealt with by Justice Jonathan Eaton in the High Court at Christchurch today, when White avoided the preventive detention sentence.

But because he is a second-strike offender, he will have to serve all of the two-year seven-month jail term imposed, and Justice Eaton suggested the term in custody could be followed by an extended supervision order that will keep him under tight controls for up to 10 years.

He warned White that he was now under a grave risk of an open-ended sentence being imposed “unless you ensure you only direct your sexual attention towards consenting adults”.

White had been convicted and sentenced to community detention and intensive supervision in 2011 for sexual offending, and convicted again in 2012 when he was given a first strike warning and jailed for two years two months.

Various treatment options had been tried but Crown prosecutor Jade Lancaster said White had either not engaged properly with the programmes, or they had not been enough because he had continued to offend.

In one session with a health assessor, White had said there might now be 21 victims of his offending including cases where there had been no prosecution. He had been assessed as a high risk of sexual recidivism after targeting pre- and post-pubescent male victims he assessed as being vulnerable to manipulation.

In this case, White had arranged for the 15-year-old boy to go to his address in June 2021 where they drank alcohol and smoked cannabis. The teenager passed out during oral sex, about midnight, but the boy’s uncle was listening on an app on his phone that was installedto be able to track him.

Defence counsel Natalie Wham said some of the health assessors’ reports on White – a total of five have been prepared for the sentencing and for consideration of a previous extended supervision order application – were “equivocal” about the risk he posed.

Preventive detention sentences were not punitive, but were meant to manage risk for the community, and she suggested a finite jail term and an ESO could adequately manage the risk he posed.

White had expressed his willingness to do whatever rehabilitation he needed to do to prevent further offending. “He doesn’t wish to offend again,” she said.

Justice Eaton considered the Crown’s submissions for preventive detention but decided that the finite jail term – White will serve all of it as a second-strike offender – followed by a likely extended supervision order, would be sufficient to manage the risk he posed.

He noted that White had consistently entered guilty pleas to his offending, and had been willing to undergo treatment, even if not successfully. He noted that he had been young when his offending began, and had not been convicted for the last nine years.

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