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Court's Decision Flawed

Thursday June 29th 2006

Court's Decision Flawed

If child abuse in New Zealand is to be reduced, the judiciary need to send a clearer signal to offenders, according to an ECPAT New Zealand spokesperson. This week the sentencing of paedophile Jarred J. Hutchison to 13 1/2 years for the abuse of a young girl is an illustration of the problem that has developed.

In passing sentence, the judge admitted that this was one of the worst cases to come before the courts. The facts bear this out. Hutchison consistently raped and sexually abused a young girl from the age of three to the age of 8 1/2 years and filmed himself carrying out the abuse. Police produced 25 tapes depicting multiple examples of extreme abuse on a young child. The defendant also had an extensive collection of child pornography and other film clips of young children.

The maximum penalty for sexual violation by rape is 20 years with preventative detention. Instead the judge gave a sentence of only 13 1/2 years and declined to give preventative detention. The conclusion is that Hutchison, with good behaviour, could be back on the streets in 7 years.

In passing a lighter sentence the judge excused himself by stating that there is treatment available in prison for paedophiles. While this is true, the treatment does not have a perfect success rate and is often an optional choice for prisoners.

The sentence in this case makes a mockery of the maximum sentence. If the persistent sexual abuse of a young child aged three to eight does not receive the maximum penalty for sexual violation, ECPAT New Zealand would like to know what does. Young children who suffer long and persistent sexual rape can never fully recover from such an experience and relive the trauma for their entire life.

ECPAT NZ believes that the protection of children from sexual abuse must be given a high priority in New Zealand society. Serial paedophiles who rape young children and show no remorse must be reminded that courts will deal seriously with their actions.


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