A cannabis-affected teenager has been jailed for raping a 6-year-old girl he was babysitting.
The 18-year-old man, who was 16 at the time of the offending, has begun a two-year jail term for the rape and sexual violation of the girl in early 2015.
Documents for his sentencing, which happened in the Christchurch District Court on Thursday, included an assessment connecting his harmful sexual behaviour with his use of cannabis.
Judge Jane McMeeken had seen reports on the youth that said his cannabis dependency was now in remission, but he also met the criteria for alcohol and synthetic cannabis abuse.
The girl’s parents said in their victim impact statements that they hoped the youth would get the help he needed. “They are incredibly generous statements, despite the pain that this whanau feels,” the judge said.
After the girl disclosed the offending, the teenager immediately apologised and pleaded guilty. He was originally dealt with in the Youth Court and had completed part of his sentence, but in March failed to turn up for judicial monitoring.
He was arrested in April, remanded in custody and the case was sent to be dealt with in the adult jurisdiction.
Judge McMeeken said the youth’s early life was traumatic. His father was jailed during his childhood, and his mother had alcohol and drug issues that led to her jailing as well. He ended up in care and suffered abuse “in various forms”.
With the father recently released from prison, the family came back together and the youth was expected to live with his parents while he did his original sentence.
“It was never going to be easy. You had to live as a son in a family unit that had not existed since you were a tiny baby,” Judge McMeeken said.
At a youth justice facility he was seen as a leader among his peers. “You were confident and challenged other young people when their behaviour or attitude towards staff was poor.”
His sexual offending was not part of a pattern of sexually abusive behaviour but was a total lack of judgment when he was under the influence of drugs, the judge said.
Defence counsel Tony Greig said it was accepted a jail term was the only option, but noted the offending happened two-and-a-half years ago and would have “lost a degree of meaning” for a young offender.
Prosecutor Sean Mallett said the Crown accepted a rehabilitative sentence was the best outcome.
Judge McMeeken reduced the youth’s sentence because he had done part of the original sentence, and for his youth, remorse, and guilty pleas. She jailed him for two years with leave to apply for home detention if a suitable place in a residential rehabilitation programme became available.
She continued the name suppression he had as a youth offender, before the case was sent to the District Court.