5 Nov 2018

Former church leader again convicted of assaulting girl

6:03 pm on 5 November 2018

A former church leader jailed for indecently assaulting a young girl in 2012 has been sentenced again after another victim came forward - and there could be five more out there.

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Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith

Leslie Gubb, who used to be a senior member of an Auckland Presbyterian church, appeared in the Manukau District Court this morning after pleading guilty to a charge of indecent assault.

The 80-year-old had previously been jailed for one year and eight months, after admitting nine charges of indecent assault against another young girl between 2000 and 2006.

The new charge was also historical and related to Gubb's second victim, who was sexually abused when she was aged between 14 and 16 nearly a decade ago.

This morning the court heard Gubb had touched her on a number of occasions, putting his hand up her dress and sometimes pulling her onto his lap.

She wept as she told the court the pain he had caused her, damaging her innocence and making her feel hopeless, pathetic and ugly.

She said the offending caused her to turn to alcohol and then self-harm, going on try to take her own life five times.

"I'm re-living the nightmares of your lips on my neck and your hands up my top."

She described Gubb, so frail he needed a walking stick to support himself into the dock, as a "horrible monster" who preyed on her younger self.

Judge John Bergseng began the sentencing by acknowledging her courage.

"I don't think anyone in court could not be affected by the impact that your offending has had on this young lady. She's now in her early 20s, but she is clearly still absolutely traumatised by what you did to her."

Judge Bergseng said the case was similar to the 2012 one in that the victim was young and vulnerable, and there was a significant abuse of trust.

"In sentencing today there's nothing I can do which is going to fix what you have done. What I can do is express society's condemnation for this type of offending and impose a sentence which reflects that."

In his submissions this morning, Gubb's defence lawyer Paul Borich QC argued for permanent name suppression.

He said his client had completed a SAFE rehabilitation programme for sex offenders and resettled in a different community.

Mr Borich said more publicity could result in those around him shunning him and severely hinder Gubb's efforts to get his life back on track.

"He's completed the sentence originally imposed and it would seem there is a very good report in terms of his rehabilitation through the SAFE programme. There's been no further offending and it would seem that despite those handicaps he's been able to successfully reintegrate himself into society."

The court heard Gubb had become involved with a new church since his move, but kept his past convictions secret until February this year when the police approached his vicar.

Police prosecutor Nikita Singh said it had also emerged that the 80-year-old had disclosed further offending against five more victims during the SAFE programme.

"Information of these victims have not been provided formally to the police or disclosed to the police by the defendant. The victims have not made any formal complaint and he is also currently working in a similar capacity at a church which contextualised the 2006 offending."

In considering the application for permanent name suppression, Judge Bergseng said the hardships Mr Borich mentioned could only be described as the "natural consequences" of the conviction.

"It is with some concern that Mr Gubb has integrated himself into the church community and failed to disclose his previous offending until he was effectively forced into that position by this most recent complainant."

The Judge said the Gubb's church had not indicated they would exclude him and, in light of his previous convictions, it was important the public were aware of his offending.

"There are strong reasons why those who choose to engage with the church should be aware of the history of Mr Gubb, partly in light of the fact that we are not dealing with one complainant but potentially seven."

The application for permanent name suppression was declined.

Judge Bergseng adopted a starting point of 14 months' imprisonment and allowed discounts for Gubb's guilty plea and time already served.

He imposed a final sentence of three months' home detention with six months of special post detention conditions.