13 Dec 2016

Woman attacked in her home: 'I thought I was going to die'

10:36 pm on 13 December 2016

The victim of a man who talked his way into her home, then subjected her to a sustained sexual attack, says the attack has left her hardened to the world.

Peter Niko at sentencing today.

Peter Niko Photo: RNZ / Anne Marie May

Peter Niko, 40, was sentenced in the High Court in Wellington this morning on a number of charges, including rape and detaining the 65-year-old woman with intent to have sexual connection with her.

He was jailed for 11 and a half years and will spend at least seven years and seven months behind bars.

Niko went to the woman's home in an emotional state in June this year and told her he was looking for his daughter, which was untrue.

He said he had called the police and they had advised him to stay where he was. He asked if he could wait in her house until they arrived.

She took pity on him and invited him in for a cup of tea in an effort to comfort him. He bound her and sexually attacked her for more than four hours, strangling her and threatening to cut her into pieces.

In a statement read to the court, the victim said the attack had made her feel hardened to the world and left her all "over the place" emotionally.

"[This was a] prolonged sex attack from a complete stranger, someone I was trying to help. You invaded my privacy and took advantage of my kindness to get what you wanted. [I was] overpowered and bound and thought I was going to die.

"I used to be bubbly and welcoming but now I can't be bothered. I find myself inconsolable and sobbing for no reason."

Justice Dobson said the four-hour ordeal was exceptionally cruel offending.

"From being outgoing and independent, confidently living on her own, she is so shattered and lacking in confidence she has to live with other members of her family. From being trusting and open with others, your offending has caused her to be constantly fearful and suspicious of others."

Prosecutor Alice McCubbin-Howell said there were several aggravating features, including the victim's vulnerability and the fact Niko gained access to her house by false pretences.

"The Crown also emphasises the offender's actions at the end of the offending and the steps that he took in order to try and destroy evidence. Asking the victim to shower and wiping down surfaces, and in the Crown's submission that demonstrates a high degree of calculated offending."

Niko also made the woman take the sheets from her bed and wash them.

Defence lawyer Kevin Preston said Niko had been the victim of two very serious sexual attacks himself earlier in his life, which had left him suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"The system's failure to deal with him not only contributed to PTSD but exacerbated it and that led Mr Niko not to have a coping mechanism, which manifested itself in the behaviour for which he's in court today."

But Justice Dobson questioned Niko's level of remorse.

"Genuine remorse is to be recognised but is hard to evaluate here. [This] gross abuse of a woman would have included many chances to desist. You could have come to your senses at many times but didn't and it's all too easy to say sorry when apprehended."

The judge gave a sentence discount to recognise Niko's early guilty plea and PTSD.

However he ordered him to spend at least seven years and seven months behind bars before being considered for parole.