Man jailed for ‘deliberate and prolonged’ sexual abuse of two Taranaki children

Two children suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of Sam Hanson. Photo / 123rf

A sexual predator who told one of his young victims he wasn’t afraid of going to jail will now spend more than seven years behind bars.

Taranaki man Sam Hanson sexually abused one child from November 2017 until February 2021 and another from December 2018 until December 2020.

On Wednesday, the 30-year-old appeared in New Plymouth District Court for sentencing on admitted representative charges of sexual conduct with a child under the age of 12 and sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

At the hearing, one of his victims spoke of how the abuse had impacted her, sharing that every day remained a struggle and she was suicidal.

She said Hanson had stripped her of her innocence and her childhood.

The other victim told Hanson she didn’t wish him any ill-will and hoped he took every opportunity available to him to better himself.

In spite of the trauma she continued to endure, the girl said she now felt a stronger person because she had survived Hanson’s abuse and “stood up” for herself.

Sam Hanson appeared in New Plymouth District Court on Wednesday.  Photo / Tara Shaskey
Sam Hanson appeared in New Plymouth District Court on Wednesday. Photo / Tara Shaskey

During the sexual assaults, Hanson had told one of his victims that he was “not afraid of going to jail or killing someone”, the court was told.

This caused her to be afraid and prevented her from telling anyone what he was doing.

However, his three years and three months of sexual crimes were eventually revealed and Hanson was arrested.

Although when the police gave him an opportunity to explain the offending, he denied the allegations.

It wasn’t until only weeks before Hanson was due to go to trial that he backpedaled and admitted the charges.

At sentencing, Crown prosecutor Rebekah Hicklin said the offending was deliberate and prolonged, and the victims were defenseless and vulnerable.

“The offender is responsible for effectively destroying their lives.”

She submitted a starting point of 10 years’ imprisonment should be adopted and then a 5 percent discount could be applied for Hanson’s offer to attend restorative justice and lack of previous convictions.

But there should be no credit for remorse as he had not shown any and only a discount of 15 percent, instead of the full 25, should be given for guilty pleas given they were late, Hicklin argued.

On the contrary, defense lawyer Kylie Pascoe submitted her client should receive 20 percent for the pleas as the admission had spared the victims the stress of going to trial.

Pascoe, who sought a starting point of no more than eight years’ jail, argued Hanson was genuinely remorseful and that credit should also be applied for his background, which she said included his own childhood abuse.

But Judge Gregory Hikaka rejected there was any connection between Hanson’s reported abuse and his offending.

The court heard that he claimed to have been sexually abused as a child but that he did not recall any of it it. It wasn’t until he was under general anesthetic for an operation that those “suppressed memories” were said to have materialized.

The judge also doubted Hanson’s remorse, referencing a report that contained “telling comments” made by the defendant, which included victim blaming.

Hanson, who was assessed as a high risk of reoffending, lacked insight into the seriousness of his crimes, the report stated.

He was also emotionally removed from the harm he had caused his victims.

After adopting the Crown’s starting point, Judge Hikaka acknowledged the benefit to the victims in not having to go to trial and applied a discount of 20 percent for the guilty pleas.

He gave a further 5 percent for Hanson’s previous lack of criminal offending and his willingness to attend restorative justice.

Hanson was then jailed for seven years and six months and was added to the child sex offender register.

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