This article deals with sexual offending and may be distressing for some readers.
A repeat sexual offender, described as a “monster”, asked a victim for forgiveness as extra jail time was added to a lengthy sentence he is serving for kidnapping and rape.
Teina Toru is currently in jail for 12 years and nine months for sexual and violent offending against a woman he met on a religious social media site in 2017. He was found guilty of 16 charges, including two of rape, by High Court Justice Robert Dobson in 2018.
Toru recently appeared in the Napier District Court charged with other sexual and violent offending that happened about 20 years ago.
In that case, the woman was only a teenager at the time. Toru admitted a number of charges, including four of sexual conduct with a girl under 16.
In a victim impact statement read at Toru’s sentencing hearing, that woman described her abuser as a “monster”.
“I was only a little girl. You took advantage of my vulnerability to satisfy your sick needs,” she told him.
Toru also read a statement to the court.
“I’m truly sorry. I’m sorry for what I have done,” he said.
“I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive.”
Judge Bridget Mackintosh noted that Toru was already serving a lengthy jail sentence for his offending in 2017, during which he kept his victim confined in a room and abused her on two separate days.
Judge Mackintosh said the newer charges related to offending which occurred before the crimes for which Toru was already in prison.
She added two years and six months to his sentence, to be served cumulatively. This effectively extended Toru’s jail term to 15 years and three months.
Toru has been described in court records as a committed Seventh Day Adventist, who studied biblical scriptures and gave online counselling to others about the spiritual guidance provided by the Seventh Day Adventist faith.
A church website that reported his earlier convictions said that Toru had not attended an Adventist church for some time and while sometimes described as a “preacher” had never held this position.
The victim in Toru’s 2017 offending was described as an “unwilling witness” in court, even after she had reported what happened to her to a friend and a doctor.
In evidence, she tried to share the blame for the violence and suggested the intimate behaviour between her and Toru was consensual.
Despite this, Justice Dobson rejected a defence submission that there was no rape and no sexual violation.
At a judge-alone trial, he found each of the assaults and sexual offences proved beyond reasonable doubt.
He convicted Toru on 15 charges, including one for trying to pervert the course of justice after collusion was discovered between him, his victim and another person.
Toru later failed to overturn his convictions in the Court of Appeal.
In the most recent hearing, Judge Mackintosh said that Toru had been the victim of serious violence and abuse as a child, which had left him dislocated and disconnected.
“A lot of this has obviously played out in your later life,” she said.
But she said that the young woman he offended against would have to live with the effects of what he did for the rest of her life.
Ric Stevens spent many years working for the former New Zealand Press Association news agency, including as a political reporter at Parliament, before holding senior positions at various daily newspapers. He joined NZME’s Open Justice team in 2022 and is based in Hawke’s Bay. His writing in the crime and justice sphere is informed by four years of front-line experience as a probation officer.
Where to get help:
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email [email protected]
• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it's not your fault.
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