A former Rotorua man has been sentenced to six years and six months in jail after being found guilty of repeatedly raping and indecently assaulting a young girl in Rotorua between 1966 and 1976.
Marama Rameka, 68, a sickness beneficiary of Tauranga appeared in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday after being found guilty in July by a jury of three charges of indecently assaulting a child under 12 and two charges of rape, all relating to the same victim. All the charges were representative, meaning the offending happened more than once.
Rameka, formerly of Rotorua, was found not guilty on the sixth charge - an alleged rape in the early 1990s.
The case ran for six days with interpreters mouthing and signing the proceedings to Rameka, who is deaf and has only one leg.
Supporters of both the victim and Rameka were involved in a verbal altercation before proceedings began yesterday leading to court security staff removing a man who had come to support Rameka.
Before sentencing, the victim read her victim impact statement to the court, saying Rameka's actions had ruined her life and had led her to abuse drugs and alcohol and had forced her into prostitution.
"Marama took my childhood and my teenage years away from me. I felt very isolated, unloved and alone as a child. I didn't have anyone to turn to. He took away my innocence and, in fact, he ruined my life," she said.
Rameka's lawyer Jonothan Briscoe said a prison sentence of five years would be appropriate.
"The issue for Mr Rameka is his ongoing health problems ... but in reality that is the only credit that can be given to him," Mr Briscoe said.
While sentencing Rameka, Justice Paul Heath said the maximum sentence for rape in the 1970s was 14 years and since the offending took place during that time the more recent maximum of 20 years in jail could not be applied.
Justice Heath also took into account Rameka's previous conviction for indecent assault in 1997.
"While the victim must take some responsibility for her life choices, I accept that the drug and alcohol addiction from which she has suffered does have connection with the feelings of worthlessness that she experienced as a result of the continued sexual abuse that you heaped upon her," Justice Heath said.
"Despite the jury's verdicts you continue to deny the offending ... as a result you express no remorse ... a prison sentence is inevitable."
Justice Heath said the only mitigating factors considered while imposing the sentence were Rameka's age and ill-health.