12 Jul 2012

Man jailed for sex assault on tourist

3:52 pm on 12 July 2012

A Tauranga man found guilty by jury of sexual violation and kidnapping after giving a lift to a French tourist hitchhiking between Taupo and Napier last year has been jailed for eight years and six months.

Stuart Harris, 27, was sentenced on Thursday at the Rotorua District Court for sexual violation by sexual connection, kidnapping and indecent assault.

The court was told Harris had picked up the tourist, turned off the main road into a forestry area, threatened he would hurt her and forced her to perform a sex act.

In sentencing, Judge James Weir said the vulnerability of the victim, the difference in size between the two and Harris' premeditation were aggravating factors.

He also said a factor in setting a minimum jail period was to hold Harris to account for the harm caused to the victim and community.

"It goes without saying that offences of this type against tourists is of enormous harm to this community, and indeed the community of New Zealand."

Harris will serve a minimum of five years behind bars.