1 Mar 2012

Rape teen's lawyer fears prison counselling delay

9:43 pm on 1 March 2012

The lawyer for a teenager who raped a five-year-old girl says he will not be eligible for the sex offenders programme in prison for another four years.

Raurangi Mark Marino, 16, was sentenced to 10 years jail at the Rotorua District Court on Wednesday.

He attacked the girl on 21 December last year as she slept in a caravan at Club Habitat Holiday Park in Turangi. She suffered significant injuries in the violent sexual assault.

Marino's lawyer, Katherine Ewen, told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme that as well as sex offender counselling the teenager needs help to deal with his anger, drug and alcohol problems.

She said the Department of Corrections Department has committed to providing a psychologist on a one-to-one basis, but she is not sure when this will happen.

"If one of these psychologists engages with him he will do a lot of good work. I'm just sceptical that it won't happen soon."

The Corrections Department says the sex offenders programme in prison is intended for men aged 20 and over.

Director of psychological services Nicky Reynolds says there not enough young sexual offenders to warrant a separate programme for teenagers.

She said says younger offenders need one-on-one counselling and years of preparation before they begin the intensive programme.

"This isn't an easy programme for people to go through, and they have to be really ready, to actually want to do that work and to make those changes."

Meanwhile, Ms Ewen says she also fears her client, whose family has a gang background, will not be protected in jail.

"Neither of the gangs like offending against children so he's in a lot of danger while he's in prison."

The lawyer says Marino is eligible for parole after serving a third of his sentence but has told her he will not apply for release until he has served five years.

Teenager could be at risk

A criminologist says Mark Marinoa Turangi will be a target in prison given the nature and notoriety of his offending.

Professor of Criminology at Wellington's Victoria University John Pratt says prison staff will need to protect Marino's life in jail, by putting the teenager in protective custody.

Professor Pratt says the publicity around Marino's offending will do him no favours in prison, and he will be a target.