DUNEDIN, 04 JUNE 2020 (STUFF NZ) — Two Tongan orchard workers who laughed as they sexually violated a woman near a Central Otago lake have been jailed.
Suliasi Fangatua, 30, and Taniela Siale, 22, who were in New Zealand as part of a seasonal working scheme, appeared for sentencing on charges of abduction and sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection at the Dunedin District Court on Wednesday.
The pair pleaded guilty to the charges in December, almost 10 months after the rape took place, but Judge Kevin Phillips asked the men to reconfirm their guilty pleas to avoid any doubt.
On 03 February, the pair went to the Cromwell’s Victoria Arms Hotel, with CCTV capturing them leaving with a woman – who they did not know – seven minutes later.
She had wanted a ride home, instead one of the men grabbed her by the wrist, and dragged her to Lake Dunstan, about 150 metres from the car park.
She grabbed her cellphone and called for help. Her handbag was thrown into the lake, as she struggled and screamed.
One of the men pulled her jeans and bathing suit off, both of which were found discarded.
The men dragged her naked towards the lake. The court heard she was crying as she was held by the throat and sexually assaulted.
The men talked to each other in Tongan, and laughed as she was sexually violated.
The victim said she was fearful for her life, and tried to gain the trust of her attackers.
She later said she was cold and Siale gave her his sweatshirt.
After fleeing the scene, she banged on the door of the pub to say she had been raped.
Judge Phillips said she was hysterical and had multiple abrasions on her face and body.
The pair initially denied any offending, with Siale unable to explain why his DNA was on the sweatshirt she had.
The attack had left the victim feeling helpless and worthless, and the memory would be with her for the remainder of her life, she said in her victim impact statement.
Earlier Craig Power, who appeared for the Crown, noted both men had written letters to the victim but argued that had come too late for any discount.
A letter from Siale, translated from Tongan, said he regretted what he did, and apologised to her and her family.
“I have done enough shame for my family, and I wish she forgive me for all the bad things I have done to her.”
Another letter, written from a church minister, maintained Siale did not commit sexual offending.
His lawyer argued that letter was about a struggle to reconcile his offending with his Christian faith, rather than a denial of offending.
Fangatua’s lawyer said his client was deeply ashamed of his actions, and pleaded guilty at the earliest possible time.
The judge questioned his remorse, noting he denied his offending to a probation officer.
Judge Phillips said the pair’s offending was “alarming”” He sentenced Fangatua to five years and eight months, and Siale to four years and nine months in prison……PACNEWS