24 Jun 2016

Tinder rapist gets seven years' jail

8:35 pm on 24 June 2016

A man found guilty of sexually attacking a woman he met on dating app Tinder has been jailed for seven years.

Amitesh Kumar, 32, was sentenced today in the Wellington District Court on one charge of raping the woman in March last year.

Amitesh Kumar, 32, was sentenced today in the Wellington District Court for raping a woman in March last year. Photo: RNZ / Anne Marie May

Amitesh Kumar, 32, was sentenced today in the Wellington District Court on one charge of raping the woman in March last year, after plying her with drink earlier in the evening.

The victim had recently arrived in New Zealand from India and they met for a drink, after which he took her for a drive around the coast.

During that drive he bought two four-packs of pre-mixed drinks, several of which were drunk by the woman, and he also bought her another large glass of wine when they returned into the city.

Judge Ian Mill said the victim's view was that Kumar was pressuring her to drink most of the premixes, but the defendant said they both consumed the same amount and were equally intoxicated.

The judge said that was inconsistent with CCTV footage, which showed the woman grossly intoxicated, while Kumar was acting in a sober manner when he later booked a hotel room.

Kumar told the police no intercourse happened, but his DNA was found in samples taken from the victim.

He said the woman told him he made her feel special and she wanted to have sex with him but Judge Mill said the jury clearly did not believe that and rejected Kumar's claim that the woman initiated sex.

Kumar's lawyer, Karun Lakshman said the Crown had initially claimed the woman was vulnerable because of her lack of social support in this country, but now said the vulnerability arose from intoxication.

He said his client had written a letter of apology and had offered $400 as compensation to the victim.

However Judge Mill said Kumar continued to claim that the intercourse was consensual and in a letter he wrote to the victim he said he wanted to express his sincere apology for "whatever has happened".

The judge said, "what possible construction will a victim put on that? How would that console the victim?"

"[She was] not vulnerable because of her arrival in New Zealand three weeks before, but because she was disoriented, grossly intoxicated, and isolated in a room in a building where she didn't know where she was and you took advantage of that, clearly knowing her condition and not believing she consented."

In a statement, the woman said, "The feeling of being powerless hasn't left me since. The impact of the assault has been devastating, profound and far-reaching and flashbacks and memories remind me of my powerlessness."

She now suffers from post-traumatic shock disorder, hyper-vigilance and has moved form Wellington to distance herself from the places she went on that night.

And police are urging women to take care when meeting strangers using dating apps.

Detective Lesa Eastergaard said those meeting someone on a dating app should tell a friend where they are going, meet in a public place during daylight hours, or take a friend with them to the meeting.

She was happy with the sentence imposed on Kumar, and said it would reassure victims that such complaints were taken seriously.