9 Dec 2014

Jail for sex attacks on backpackers

5:41 pm on 9 December 2014

A 23-year-old Motueka man has been jailed for six-and-a-half years after being convicted of sex attacks on backpackers who he picked up while they were hitchhiking.

Bernard Phillips, 23, was sentenced today in the Nelson District Court on charges of abduction for sex, unlawful sexual connection, assault with a weapon and indecent assault. The offences involved three different victims.

Detective Steve Arnold said Phillips' offending was calculated and targeted vulnerable young visitors to New Zealand.

He said Phillips preyed on young women hitchhikers who were staying at backpacker hostels.

"This man knew his victims would be leaving the country within a short time which increased his likelihood of getting away with his offending," Mr Arnold said.

"I hope hostel owners and accommodation providers will take this message on board and ensure their young visitors are aware of the risks they can face."

The offending was a reminder to visitors to take reasonable precautions for their safety, he said.

He also urged anyone who had experienced similar offending to contact the police as soon as possible.

"Don't delay and don't think it's just you. Your quick action could prevent someone else becoming a victim."