R v Gibbs [2018] NZDC 3332

Published 13 December 2018

Sentencing — historic sexual abuse — male teacher indecently assaults male student — R v Megchelse [2013] NZHC 251 — R v Buchanan [2016] NZHC 632. The defendant appeared for sentencing before the Court on six charges, including the lead charge of sodomy and five charges of indecency between man and boy. The charges related to historic offending, when the defendant was a music teacher and the victim was his student. The victim was a boarder, under 13 years, when the grooming began. The defendant's offending progressed over time from touching the victim's genitals over his clothing, to frequent sexual encounters, including inducing the victim to masturbate and perform oral sex on the defendant, and anal intercourse. The defendant has two previous convictions for indecent assault on a boy aged 12 to 16 and, in his pre-sentence report, totally denied the offending for which he'd been found guilty. The Judge noted the case of R v Megchelse in guiding sentencing for historic sexual assaults, and R v Buchanan for its related facts. In assessing the starting point, the Judge looked at the aggravating factors of the case; specifically the vulnerability of the victim, the significant breach of trust, the scale of the repetitive and regular offending, the premeditation and the serious emotional harm to the victim. This gave rise to a starting point of six and half years' imprisonment, with a further one year uplift to seven and a half years' imprisonment for the representative charges of indecency. Regarding mitigating factors, the Judge granted a 10 percent reduction for old age and ill health, and a further 10 percent for the defendant's contributions to the community. The defendant was ultimately sentenced to six years' imprisonment. Judgment Date: 1 March 2018.