25 May 2017

Prison sex abuse earns 'indefinite' jail time

7:51 pm on 25 May 2017

A repeat sex offender with more than 140 previous convictions, who sexually abused his young cellmate in prison, has been sentenced to an indefinite jail term.

Sliding barred doors and lock

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham Farrelly

Stephen Mark Gotty, 57, has now racked up 145 convictions including rape.

Gotty was found guilty of the sex attack on his 19-year-old cellmate after a judge-alone trial at Auckland District Court.

The court was told how Gotty knew the victim and helped him transfer to his cell in January last year.

But the victim said in his evidence that once the the cell door was locked Gotty began talking "real twisted and sexual stuff" to him.

He moved his mattress from the top bunk to the floor next to the victim. He then touched the victim before forcing him to perform a sex act.

The victim said he felt dirty and had a shower. He was too scared to press the emergency panic button because he thought there could be a long wait before help arrived. Instead he faked stomach pain to get Gotty to call for help. Once out of the cell, he told authorities what had happened.

Justice Downs said the victim still suffered from anxiety and was on medication after having suicidal thoughts.

Read Justice Down's full sentencing notes here

"The victim could not go anywhere. And, it is well known 'narking' is a serious taboo in the prison context and criminal underworld. It carries risk of harm, including retribution."

The judge said there was an element of pre-meditation. Gotty was older, larger and a more experienced prisoner - he has served 23 separate prison sentences, whereas his victim had only been on remand for two weeks when the attack happened. There was also a threat of violence.

Crown prosecutor Nick Williams said Gotty showed no remorse.

Gotty even accused the victim of lodging his complaint in the hope that he would receive money from ACC - something Mr Williams flatly rejected.

Gotty's lawyer, Michael Kan, argued that due to his client's age he was less likely to offend.

He said his client would also be receiving treatment inside prison and argued a sentence of preventive detention was not necessary.

In sentencing, Justice Downs noted that Gotty had served sentences for rape of a young woman in 1996 and for a sex attack on a transgender person.

High risk Gotty would reoffend - mental health experts

In sentencing Gotty to preventive detention with a minimum non-parole period of nine years, the judge said the community needed to be protected from Gotty.

He noted that mental health experts had found Gotty was a high-risk of re-offending and had low motivation to rehabilitate himself.

Gotty's sentence means he will have to prove he is no longer a risk to the community before being released.

RNZ News asked Corrections how Gotty was allowed to have a 19-year-old cellmate, given his previous convictions.

In a written statement, custodial officer Neal Beales said policies were in place but in this case they were not complied with and a young man was hurt.

"An assessment for cell-sharing suitability was carried out that evening, and incorrectly determined that the prisoners were compatible to share a cell. Staff were subject to an employment investigation and disciplinary action was taken."

Corrections took its commitment to safety extremely seriously, Mr Beales said.

"We have re-instructed all staff of the procedures that must be followed to determine whether to approve prisoners to share a cell, and emphasised the importance of safety being their main priority. While Mr Gotty is responsible for the assault that occurred, it should not have happened. We welcome the court's sentencing."

Corrections was deeply sorry for what happened, he said.