Warning: This story details sexual violence and may be distressing.
A woman struggled with her words as she told a courtroom how she went “into hiding” and was unable to provide for her children as she dealt with the emotional aftermath of being raped by three men in quick succession.
But in an unconventional act of forgiveness she stopped one of her rapists as he was being led from the dock after being sentenced to a four-year term behind bars, and thanked him for pleading guilty and for writing a letter of apology.
Tyias Moke, 25, appeared for sentencing in the Wellington District Court on Friday after pleading guilty to a single charge of rape stemming from offending in June 2021.
According to the summary of facts, Moke was one of three men to rape the victim, who was in her 20s, that night.
While Moke pleaded guilty, two co-defendants are still to go to trial where Moke will serve as a Crown witness.
The attack occurred after a night of drinking in central Wellington. The victim, who has statutory name suppression, had earlier spent the day drinking with friends and had also consumed MDMA.
The victim and the three offenders were part of separate groups that converged on a CBD apartment later that night.
At about 5am the victim took herself to a spare bedroom to sleep, still heavily intoxicated. It was then that police say a man walked into the room, removed her clothes and raped her as she repeatedly told him to stop, slipping in and out of consciousness.
Moke was sentenced at the Wellington District Court on Friday. Photo / File
Moke then raped the woman. Another man allegedly followed, and Moke then attempted a further sex act.
Addressing the court, Moke’s victim said her life changed dramatically after the offending.
“I was broken. I couldn’t work, couldn’t pay bills, and my kids couldn’t do things they were used to.”
She spoke of having bottles thrown at her house and going into hiding after she had laid a police complaint.
Moke’s lawyer Paul Surridge said at the time of the offending his client was mixing with people who were “hard and fast in their lifestyle”.
“He was in a party situation after drinking for a couple of days, everyone was ignited in one way or another.”
His client brought an apology letter to court, which Surridge read and later handed towards one of the victim’s supporters in the public gallery.
“I’m not great at apologising but I’d like to say I’m very sorry, and hope you would forgive me,” Moke wrote.
After briefly detailing the offending, Judge Peter Hobbs began with a sentence starting point of seven years and six months imprisonment.
Surridge had submitted that as a result of Moke’s guilty plea he would be used as a Crown witness in the trial of his two co-offenders.
Judge Hobbs accepted this posed a degree of risk to Moke, allowing a 25 per cent sentence discount for the plea and associated risks.
He was also afforded a 10 per cent sentence discount for his youth, and 5 per cent due to his willingness to engage in restorative justice. He was left with an end sentence of four years and six months imprisonment.
As he was led away, the victim rose from her seat and thanked Moke for both his guilty plea and the letter of apology. He acknowledged the comment by nodding his head before being taken away to begin his sentence.
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.
Ethan Griffiths covers crime and justice stories nationwide for Open Justice. He joined NZME in 2020, previously working as a regional reporter in Whanganui and South Taranaki.
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