12 Sep 2014

Girl jumped from car 'to save life'

1:04 pm on 12 September 2014

An 11-year-old girl probably saved her life by jumping out of a moving car to escape the man who had just raped her, the High Court has been told.

Name suppression was lifted today for William James Stewart, 19, who in November last year raped a 17-year-old in a car near Christchurch airport, and later abducted the 11-year-old from a rural North Canterbury playground.

At the Christchurch court today, Justice Mander sentenced Stewart to 15 years' jail. He must serve a minimum period of eight years.

Following a high speed police chase near the town of Loburn, Stewart was stopped when his car crashed into a power pole.

Police said shortly before the crash he had raped the 11-year-old twice - once at knife point - but she had managed to escape by throwing herself out of the moving car after seeing her father, who was searching for her along the roadside.

Only hours before, Stewart had raped the 17-year-old while strangling her.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Jamieson told the court today it was likely that Stewart would have killed his younger victim.

She said it was because the girl jumped from the car to save her own life that the court was not having to consider a sentence for a more serious offence.

Ms Jamieson told Justice Mander that Stewart's psychiatric reports all referred to the nature of the pornography Stewart had been watching.

Stewart last year admitted to five charges, including rape and abduction, that he carried out shortly after turning 18. His lawyer, Elizabeth Bulger, urged the judge today take his age into account when handing down his sentence.

Justice Cameron Mander told him his offending had affected the whole Loburn community.

"It is difficult to adequately reflect or articulate the devastation you have wrought to this family as a result of your sexual attack on this young girl," he said.

"It may sound trite, but what you did is a family's worst nightmare."