R v Hannis [2019] NZDC 1272

Published 29 January 2019

Sentencing — indecent assault — sentencing indication — home detention. The defendant, having pleaded guilty to indecent assault, appeared for sentencing. The Judge had previously provided a sentencing indication of 22 months' imprisonment, but with home detention to be considered. The offending occurred when the defendant was visiting a rest home. The defendant approached the victim, who was sitting alone, and began a conversation. When the victim left the lounge for her bedroom, the defendant followed her, shut the door behind him, closed the curtains and then began kissing and inappropriately touching the victim. The victim was over 80 years old and especially vulnerable due to health issues, while the defendant was 55 years of age. She attempted to push away the defendant but was physically unable to do so. A caregiver then entered the room, which was in darkness, and then left to find a manager, at which point the defendant continued his assault. Later, the caregiver returned with a male nurse to find the victim in different trousers alone in her room. When questioned, the defendant admitted his activity, but claimed it was consensual. The sentencing indication, which the defendant relied on when pleading guilty, had an end sentence of 22 months' imprisonment, although the Judge now had further information, including submissions, a pre-sentence report, the defendant's letter of apology, a doctor's report and the victim impact statement. That sentence was reached from a starting point of two years and nine months' imprisonment, by a 25 percent discount for pleading guilty and a 10 percent discount for previous good character and community service. The Judge then considered the additional material, including the defendant's genuine remorse, efforts to address and understand his offending, and the mental health consequences of the offending on the offender, and came to the view that an end sentence of 18 months' imprisonment was the appropriate end sentence, equating to a nine-month home detention sentence. The Judge then reduced that a further month for community work, to be done to recognise the harm to the community. The defendant's final sentence was eight months' home detention, 100 hours' community work, and to pay $3000 emotional harm reparation. The sentencing indication is attached for further information.