29 Feb 2012

Teenager jailed 10 years for Turangi rape

11:04 pm on 29 February 2012

A teenager who raped a five-year-old girl at a holiday park in Turangi has been jailed for 10 years.

Raurangi Mark Marino, 16, appeared in the Rotorua District Court on Wednesday for sentencing on charges of sexual violation, sexual violence causing grievous bodily harm and burglary.

Marino attacked the girl on 21 December last year as she slept in a caravan at Club Habitat Holiday Park. She suffered significant injuries.

The court was told the girl attempted to leave the caravan when Marino entered about 10pm. He then covered her mouth, before choking, assaulting and raping her.

Judge Phillip Cooper said the age of the victim meant she was completely powerless - which would have been obvious to Marino.

A letter written by Marino's mother detailed how he was exposed to substance abuse, violence and a gang culture from an early age.

But Judge Cooper told Marino that, while he is responsible for the crime, his family is responsible for his upbringing.

"I want to make it clear that you are responsible for your own actions. But having said that, your whanau and your extended whanau are responsible for an upbringing which has produced a young man who could commit such an appalling and sickening crime."

Judge Cooper said the crime showed a high level of violence and caused considerable harm to the girl and her family and she may have to live with the consequences of the attack throughout her life.

Defence lawyer Katherine Ewen said Marino had consumed alcohol and taken cannabis in the eight to 10 hours leading up to the attack.

The court was told Marino had had a troubled upbringing and had been physically and sexually abused.

Family relieved at verdict

The girl's family has returned to Europe and said it had been very emotional waiting for the sentence. Her parents said they are relieved that the court part of the nightmare is over.

The couple thanked the court, police and the people of New Zealand for their help since the attack.

Raurangi Mark Marino admitted the charges at an earlier court appearance and police say they are pleased the family was spared a trial.

Outside court, Detective Inspector Mark Loper said it was an emotional investigation that touched the hearts of many and his thoughts are with the girl and her family.

"They've been through an horrific ordeal whilst in New Zealand and they've got a long way to go, I guess, as far as mending."

Sentence is just, says defence lawyer

Marino's lawyer said the sentence is "very just" and he would not be lodging an appeal.

Katherine Ewen told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Wednesday the 16-year-old's problem on the night of the attack was alcohol and cannabis at an unsupervised party and the fact that he went off on his own.

However, Ms Ewen said as the judge explained, Marino had no real upbringing - his parents separated from the age of three, he was passed around the family and suffered abuse.

She said it took Marino some time to realise what he had done because he was so inebriated and affected by cannabis at the time, but had now taken it fully on board.

The early guilty plea was a show of responsibility by Marino and his family, she said.