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R v Milgate Vassalini [2022] NZDC 22200

Published 18 November 2022

Sentencing — sexual connection with young person — Nesbitt v Police HC Christchurch CRI-2010-409-90, 30 November 2011 — Fairbrother v R [2013] NZCA 340 — Berry v Police [2014] NZHC 2852 — R v R [2020] NZSC 51 — Philpot v R [2015] NZCA 212. The defendant appeared for sentence on two charges of sexual connection with a young person. The charges involved two victims, and the offending had occurred in the context of a church youth group where the defendant had an influential position. The Court observed that consent was not a defence to the charges; one of the instances of offending may or may not have involved coercion, but the Court stated that the defendant's actions were wrong regardless. The offending was aggravated by the vulnerability of the victims, predatory behaviour, planning and premeditation, and breach of trust. The start point for sentence was three and a half years' imprisonment. The defendant was allowed discounts for guilty plea, youth, and otherwise good character. The Court commented that, if possible, defendants should be rehabilitated rather than incarcerated. With this in mind, the Court considered the appropriate sentence to be 12 months' home detention with conditions. Judgment Date: 10 November 2022