16 Nov 2017

Prisoner who raped three of his cellmates sentenced

5:05 pm on 16 November 2017

A repeat sex offender who raped three of his cellmates has been given a sentence without end - for the second time.

Inside Paremoremo Prison

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

William Katipa appeared at the High Court in Auckland today where Justice Downs described him as unremorseful and dangerous, after he was found guilty of raping the three men over the past decade.

Katipa invaded a family home and raped a young mother in front of her two year-old-daughter in the 1990s. He was also found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl and sentenced to preventive detention.

But being in prison did not stop him from offending.

Katipa made sure his fellow prisoners knew of his gang connections and that he was in for life, so had nothing to lose.

The 51-year-old sized up his victims, threatening violence and in one case, knocking his cellmate out before sexually abusing him.

Crown prosecutor Natalie Walker said Katipa had offended against both people he knew and complete strangers.

"He has not been deterred by the presence of children, the proximity of prison guards or the sternest sentence our law can impose."

Katipa's lawyer Andrew Speed said there was not much he could say, but that Katipa had been in prison since 2000 and was now facing the prospect of a further sentence, at least 15 years.

"When one's considering the overall sentence here, whatever way one looks at it, it's going to be a truly crushing sentence and that is to be avoided in my respectful submission."

The evidence from the victims was disturbing. One was repeatedly raped and abused for a week before managing to change cells, while another was almost knocked out before being sexually attacked. They gave their evidence and were cross-examined during Katipa's trial.

"Each victim could be forgiven for thinking he was on trial. Indeed, your trial provides an obvious example of why victims can be reluctant to complain about sexual offences. The process can be traumatic, indeed, harrowing."

Justice Downs said Katipa would cover the peephole on the door or get the victim to do the same.

He also knew help would take a long time to arrival, even if the cell's panic button was hit. He threatened to kill all three if they told anyone.

"You made it known to the victims you were a 'lifer' and you had nothing to lose. You also made it known you were connected, or had been connected to a gang. You told T you were a hitman."

Justice Downs said despite Katipa wanting to access rehabilitation programmes for sex offenders inside prison, he still didn't admit the prison rapes.

"You told the author of the pre-sentence report, Mr Lui, you would maintain your innocence 'until I leave this planet'."

The judge said Katipa posed a serious threat to the community and to prisoners, and would not get treatment until he had admitted what he had done.

It was revealed at trial that one of Katipa's victims was suing the Department of Corrections for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Another of his victims is asking for $75,000.

A lawyer from the Department was in court today for the sentencing.

The Department is carrying out a review of its cell sharing risk-assessment process.

According to the terms of reference, released to Radio New Zealand News under the Official Information Act, acting chief executive Jeremy Lightfoot asked senior Corrections staff to carry out a review of the risk assessment process.

The terms of reference say there have been "recent incidents" and it's been found that staff didn't follow the correct process.

Katipa's case followed that of Stephen Mark Gotty, a repeat sex offender with more than 140 previous convictions.

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