Auckland rugby coach Alosio Taimo sentenced to 22 years in jail

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Friday, 22 February 2019, 11:56a.m.
Alosio Taimo was sentenced today in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Alosio Taimo was sentenced today in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham

An Auckland rugby coach found guilty of 95 charges of sexually abusing young boys has been sentenced to 22 years' jail.

Justice Simon Moore sentenced Alosio Taimo, 56, to the term with a minimum imprisonment period of 10 years.

Today in the High Court at Auckland, Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes argued for Taimo to be sentenced to preventive detention due to the seriousness of the case and his denial of offending.

"We cannot say that his risk will be reduced at any point in the future."

There is a "collective undercurrent" that the 17 people he offended against were survivors who refused to be ruined by the offending, Rhodes said.

These were strong, proud, clever and successful men who would overcome their ordeals in spite of Taimo, not because of him, he said.

Taimo's defence lawyer Panama Le'au'anae argued for a finite sentence, adding the parole board would act as gatekeepers with their restrictions.

"He is not coming out any time soon."

Justice Moore said his crimes were "unprecedented in this country".

"The sheer scale is extraordinary," he said.

Justice Moore said Taimo had claimed during the trial that the men who had come forward were lying.

"It was you [who] the jury determined was a liar," Justice Moore told Taimo.

Taimo's offending used "gross breaches of trust".

"In a subtle and cynical way you controlled them, whether that was through bribes or threats."

Sometimes Taimo would feign crying to manipulate them, he said.

Justice Moore said he had heard from parents who felt like they had failed their children, and of course they did nothing wrong and did not deserve to feel that way.

It was no hyperbole to say it was offending that had devastated the lives of 17 boys and young men, he said.

"These are victims who are not broken [he said of the 17 men].

"These are proud, strong and successful people."

When considering the sentence, Justice Moore used a starting point of 23 years' imprisonment.

Taimo could not claim previous good conduct, he said.

"You continued to offend right up until you were arrested.

"At least you have made a start on what will be a long road to rehabilitation," Justice Moore said.

It was crucial that Taimo had acknowledged he needed rehabilitation, he said.

"You are not an old man in biological years but neither are you young. Your physical health is poor."

In the future he would be registered on the child sex offender list, he said.

Justice Moore said he expected Taimo would be "totally and permanently ostracised".

At the very least Taimo would never be trusted around children again, he said.

Initially, there were nine complainants and 53 charges against Taimo, who came to New Zealand from Samoa in 1987 and initially moved in with his sister in the suburb of Ōtara.

After the Herald and other media published Taimo's name more complainants came forward.

The allegations grew to 83 charges and 18 complainants.

The list of charges grew further during the trial to 106, while the Crown also revealed a graphic photograph found on Taimo's phone showing him engaged in a sexual act with a young man.

Today, the long lasting and devastating affects of his crimes were heard in seven victim impact statements.

"I stand here before the courts not as a victim but as a survivor"

The first complainant who spoke told the High Court it was a deep dark secret he had carried bottled up.

Sights and sounds continued to remind him of what had happened, he said.

"I knew I had to move away," he said.

"For many years I have been a prisoner in my own mind thinking I was classified as damaged goods."

Even being around my family and friends he felt unsafe as he began to prefer isolation, he said.

"I had hit rock bottom."

But he said he knew he needed to break the silence and was not a victim but a survivor.

"Justice will be served today"

The next complainant reflected on how he hoped today would be a day of closure for those who had been abused by Taimo.

"I'm not angry anymore. I faced those demons long ago," he said.

"I forgive you for what you did. Forgiveness is the hardest part ..."

The biggest challenge is the fight was within himself the mental challenges that come with such an event, he said.

"How can you call yourself a man of faith? And have the devil dictate your needs?

"Justice will be served today."

Suppression orders prevent the Herald from naming any schools or sports clubs associated with Taimo's alleged offending.

During the trial, a woman associated with the case was also accused of contempt of court.

The charge came after two jurors told Justice Moore she approached them to talk about the case, while also offering home-baked muffins.

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