29 Oct 2015

Worker admits to raping sleeping victim

2:32 pm on 29 October 2015

A Tongan orchard worker living in Nelson has admitted raping a woman while she lay sleeping in her home.

Vunga Fetuani, 34, was in New Zealand on a seasonal employment contract with a local orchard.

He was initially charged with a more minor offence after the couple woke to find an intruder in their bedroom, in the early hours of a Sunday morning in August.

At the time, Fetuani was living in a rental home with other Tongan seasonal workers, near the victim's home. The police summary said she did not know or recall having ever spoken with Fetuani.

On the Saturday, the victim's family had spent the afternoon celebrating their son's birthday in an outdoor area of their home, which was within view of the Fetuani's address.

He had been home until later in the afternoon and then spent the evening drinking kava at an orchard neighbouring the place where he worked.

Fetuani drove home with workmates around 1am on Sunday morning, and then made his way to the victim's home, which he entered through a door left unlocked for the couple's son.

He found the couple asleep in their bedroom, and removed the bed linen covering the victim who awoke to the sexual activity and was initially confused, then challenged the intruder who fled the room.

Police found Fetuani at his workplace several weeks later. He initially denied any involvement in the offence, but did acknowledge that fingerprints and DNA found in the bedroom were from him but he "couldn't remember what happened".

The woman and her husband have been left extremely distressed by the ordeal, they said.

At the Nelson District Court today, Judge David Ruth remanded Fetuani in custody for sentencing in December, and warned him he was now subject to the three-strikes law that ensured longer prison sentences for people who committed serious or violent offences.