Tensions and emotions ran high in the courtroom as a husband and wife were sentenced to jail for the sexual and physical abuse they inflicted on young children spanning 26 years.
"He had sex with me even before I had my period," a stepdaughter of the man told the Whanganui District Court on Friday.
The couple, who cannot be named to protect the identities of their victims, appeared before Judge Philip Crayton for sentencing on a raft of charges which spanned 26 years and involved two generations.
The husband faced charges of indecently assaulting a female under 12, unlawful sexual connection with a female under 12, two of raping a female under 12, two of raping a female aged between 12 and 16, seven of assault with a weapon and two of assaulting a child.
His wife faced five charges of assault with a weapon and two of cruelty to a child.
As the hearing got underway the woman asked for a monitor showing her husband, who was appearing via AVL from prison, to be removed so she didn't have to look at him.
The victim told the court the abuse at the hands of her step-father began when she was only 9 years old and progressed from whole-body massages to sex.
"He took my childhood away, he made me grow up too fast."
The victim, who has automatic name suppression, said she still struggled to deal with the horrific abuse she had suffered which resulted in her leaving home aged 14 and turning to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain.
"I wish he would rot in hell. He has caused too much pain and suffering, talking about and thinking about what he did brings me to tears every time."
She said her mother knew of the abuse but never lifted a finger to help her, make it stop or report it to the appropriate authorities.
"She abandoned me when I needed her the most.
"I feel she didn't do her job as a parent, who should protect their child from abuse."
Knowing the couple were going to jail gave her a sense of relief that they would never be able to hurt or touch a child ever again.
"Now I can start to heal from all of the years of hell you caused me."
Another victim described how her father subjected her to years of physical, emotional and psychological abuse by burning her school work and telling her she would never be anything more than a toilet cleaner.
"You did nothing but put me down and make me feel like nothing all my life.
"For this, you are a coward. I never thought I could recover from the name-calling and intimidation."
She would be beaten when her dad had no drugs and there was often no power or food in the home because he had spent all of his benefit supporting his drug habit.
Due to the abuse, she said she never knew what a healthy relationship was and developed a methamphetamine habit to stop the nightmares.
As her life went into a downward spiral of drug abuse her own children were removed from her care and placed with her parents and the cycle of abuse continued.
She said her mother stood by and watched the beatings and abuse, making a conscious decision not to report it.
"The worst is you let him do it to us. You stood beside your predator of a husband.
"You refused to do what was right by your children, that you carried, birthed and fed."
As a consequence of the abuse, she never finished high school but despite the ordeal, she was now a successful businesswoman and was in a stable loving relationship.
"You have no power and no control over my life now and you never will again," she said fighting back the tears.
"I'm a strong independent woman with a loving husband by my side. He treats me like a queen.
"You were not a man; my husband is a real man."
She said no sentence of imprisonment would ever be enough but she was glad to have stood up against the couple.
"Now everyone is going to know who you are and what you are."
As Judge Crayton sentenced the man, who sat emotionless with his arms crossed for most of the hearing, his wife was removed from the court.
The judge described the offending as very serious sexual and physical violence towards vulnerable victims.
He sentenced him to 13 years and three months imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of six years. He would also be put on the Child Sex Offender Register.
As his defence lawyer was leaving the court one of the victims attempted to attack her while yelling "you are a dirty paedophile defender".
Security staff had to step in and restrain the woman while the lawyer left through another exit.
Before the next sentencing, Judge Crayton told the people in the public gallery he didn't want a repeat of what had occurred and ordered them not to comment or behave in an unruly manner.
He said the charges arose from three separate periods spanning 26 years.
The cruelty charges related to the mother failing to act to stop the abuse against her own children.
The frail-looking woman appeared to be sobbing and fighting back the tears as the judge detailed her offending while she sat in the dock with her head in her hands.
Judge Crayton said while she was not the primary offender, there could be no doubt she was aware of what was happening after one of her daughters had shown her ejaculation stains on her pyjamas.
"There can be no question that should have prompted you to act."
However, after her grandchildren had been placed in the couple's care she had beaten them with weapons including belts, broken pieces of wood and branches, a half-brush and had assaulted one using a hot glue gun that was plugged in.
Judge Crayton said the girl was only aged 7 or 8 at the time and the glue gun was held against her bottom for several minutes making her scream in pain and leaving her unable to have a bath for a long time.
The judge described it as a cruel and deliberate act with the sole intention of causing pain.
He sentenced the woman to a total of three years and three months' imprisonment.
WHERE TO GET HELP
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Helpline: 1737
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111
- by Leighton Keith, Open Justice