Opinion: Paedophiles need harsher penalties
Tue, 22 Jan 2013 4:30p.m.
Opinion by Rachel Tiffen
It's nearly five months since I first heard the name Trevor Hall.
If you haven't followed my coverage, Hall is a 65-year-old father and grandfather from the Bay of Plenty who used to volunteer at the Salvation Army.
He purports to be a good, Christian man.
In reality, he's an unabashed paedophile.
Desperate to stop him from hurting anymore little girls, the mother of one of his victims contacted me wanting to be interviewed, inadvertently opening the floodgates to several more.
For legal reasons, we couldn't identify the woman or the child, but if the Whakatane mother had her way she would have screamed down the barrel of the camera. She wanted every mother and father in New Zealand warned.
You see, it wasn't Hall's first offence. Far from it.
As a 10-year-old Hall forced other little boys to perform sexual acts in the playground. Or so he told the seven-year-old girl in Whakatane as he assaulted her.
Despite his early start, Hall wasn't convicted of indecent assault until some four decades later in Queensland.
The sentencing judge said Hall's offending - against his four-year-old grandniece and nine-year-old grandnephew - was "one of the worst breaches of trust" he'd ever encountered and the siblings had suffered "a combination of adverse impact and nervous and mental shock".
After 17 months Hall was released, deported to New Zealand and red-flagged by the New Zealand Police.
But that flag didn't fly for the Whakatane mother and daughter because the Salvation Army never checked him out.
And so Hall met the young mother and daughter in the Bay of Plenty township's second-hand store.
Hall's modus operandi is textbook paedophilia.
Single out the lonely, vulnerable, single mum with child in need of a father figure then gain their trust, ingratiate yourself into their home life and exploit it.
The night the Whakatane girl told her mother what "yucky Trevor" had done to her, both mother and daughter cried and cried for hours.
The mother was wracked with guilt for her choices and consumed by anger that grew into determination to stop him.
The Salvation Army made matters worse. The mother was disbelieved, shunned in fact even after Hall had admitted his crime.
Once 3 News reported on Hall, they admitted their processes needed work.
On December 17 last year, Judge Peter Rollo sentenced Hall to 12 months home detention in the Tauranga District Court.
Hall's medical condition, Judge Rollo said, made a term of imprisonment "disproportionately severe" to his offending. Hall, a lifelong-smoker, has emphysema.
Meanwhile another alleged victim, from 25 years prior, watched the 3 News coverage in disbelief and anger.
This woman wasn't lucky enough to have had a supportive mother. She wasn't believed, so she bottled it up.
But Hall's behaviour, which at times was downright brazen and arrogant, left her scarred - mentally, physically and romantically. As an adult, intimacy feels dirty and wrong.
To her, the Judge's sentence of home detention sends an appalling message. To her, it says 'molest our children and you'll get sent home' or 'a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket for you paedophiles out there'.
The sentence has put her off going to the police or being interviewed by media.
She believes there are dozens more out there, like her.
I was also approached by another mother of two more alleged victims. Hall assaulted her children, she says, while she was in hospital giving birth to twins. The children were interviewed at the time and the mother heard nothing more.
Police have since admitted they may have botched it and have re-interviewed one of the alleged victims. But, no charges have been laid.
So exactly what message are the people in charge of upholding and presiding over the law trying to send?
Former Northland teacher James Parker faces 72 charges of sexual offending against boys. The judge has indicated he will consider a sentence of preventive detention - that is, indefinite custody.
So, once it's bad enough we'll lock them up, but how bad does it need to get?
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9/02/2013 4:34:55 p.m.
would love to see the day that NZ Cypfs MSD anand the NZ POLICE are held accountable and responsible for failing all the victims of Trevor Hall that they knew aout ut ignored the warning signs of being told the truth in the first instance only to become a double victim of society. Law changes needed in order to have this never fail the Nation again ...shame on you Paula and Judith get your sh*t plan game face on....bring it go Team Victims Support Aotearoa NZ ! Est : Rotorua 2013.
26/01/2013 1:49:33 p.m.
Unfortunately the courts are a joke and their track record is embarrassing. Offenders shouldn't be able to get (in some cases) 300+ convictions when often the remedies available (ie. ten years for say burglary) and put in place by a democratically elected government should be applied – truth is the courts are scared to apply them. The damage done by some of these hair brained judges is incredible. Who really cares about ‘rehabilitating’ paedophiles – if they are guilty beyond any doubt / fess up to their crimes, then shoot them. Why does an individual’s right to ‘have another go’ in society after committing serious crime/crimes outweigh the need to protect the general public at large?
26/01/2013 10:27:42 a.m.
@Andrew. Perhaps your opinions on sentencing laws would be different if it was your child who had been sexually abused. Perhaps you should imagine walking in the shoes of these parents before judging their judgments. Get real mate.
26/01/2013 6:26:45 a.m.
I too am a victim, not of Trevor, but if 2 family members. As an adult now I'd like to see them imprisoned, but knowing the chances that they won't, it has stopped me from reporting it. The family knows, which stopped it, but effectively, because of our inept justice system, and lack of support which from the victims point of view actually is more supportive to the perpetrator, a lot more paedophiles will continue to go unpunished in the comfort of their home. Judges need to start taking making harsher sentences. Victims need to stop being on trial. And paedophiles need to rot in hell, not at home.
22/01/2013 8:31:44 p.m.
@Andrew, what are you smoking? Its not doing your brain any good, that much is clear. This individual preys on young children, I don't give a fat rats about comparing to any other offender. He is a danger, full stop, as we can't put him down, at least put him away (forever)
22/01/2013 5:57:45 p.m.
This judge obviously doesn't have a clue as to how molestation affects the victim. Trevor has placed his victims in emotional and psychological prisons, why should he not be placed in an equally scary physical prison. This gives physically ill people license to go and commit crimes that they know they won't go to prison for because they are sick. Nice of this judge to provide an escape for the criminals.
22/01/2013 5:57:18 p.m.
Preventive detention is a threat-based sentence i.e. it is given to high risk offenders. Therefore, it is possible to have a large discrepancy in sentences when comparing two sex offenders since someone like James Parker is given preventive detention due to the serious risk he poses rather than to punish him.
In terms of punitive sentencing this is based on the culpability of the offender and takes into account a wider range of factors. The judge would have reached the sentence of home detention after taking into account all mitigating and other relevant considerations. Perhaps Mr. Hall was not considered a serious enough risk to be given preventive detention. It is perhaps best to understand sentencing law before passing judgement on the propriety of the sentence.
22/01/2013 5:17:23 p.m.
12 months home detention? People in this country are being sent to jail for victimless cannabis offences, but a sentence of imprisonment is considered "disproportionately severe" for a convicted paedophile? Something is very wrong with this picture.
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