Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Two Indian men found guilty of raping a young woman in a New Zealand restaurant will be deported after they have served their jail terms

Dean Calcott:

A woman cried bitterly in the Christchurch District Court yesterday as Judge Murray Abbott sentenced the two men for raping a 17-year-old woman at an Indian restaurant in the central city last year.

Kirti Ram, 40, and Manish Kumar Tyagi, 30, were jailed for 10 years and nine years respectively by the judge, who ordered each to serve half the sentence as a minimum non-parole term.

Ram was found guilty by a jury on three counts of rape, one of indecent assault, two of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and two of attempted sexual violation.

Tyagi was found guilty of three counts of rape, one of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, indecent assault and attempted sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

The judge said he took into account language difficulties, that their families were also victims in a way and that effects on the families would be severe.

But the main victim was the complainant, a small, young and vulnerable woman who was in effect detained at a restaurant in a strange city for three hours and subjected to the abuse after meeting Ram by chance in the street, he said.

AdvertisementAdvertisement"The lengthy victim-impact statement which has been put before me is a compelling account of the consequences of that night in January last year for her," the judge said.

"She had been brought up to trust Indian men, and she believed she could trust your assurance your wife and family were at the restaurant and you would safely direct or get her to the bus terminal."

Accountability, denunciation and deterrence were all of particular relevance in the case, the judge said.

During the trial the victim was said to have met Ram by chance after travelling by bus to Christchurch after a family argument. She was taken to the Two Fat Indians restaurant in central Christchurch, where the offences occurred.

She said she repeatedly told the men to stop, was screaming and crying, and yelling that it hurt.

After three hours a taxi was called and, when it arrived, both men were holding her hand so she could not get away, she said.

The defence argued that sex did take place but it was consensual and offered in exchange for money.

Counsel for Ram, James Rapley, acknowledged the effects on the victim, but there was no violence other than that inherent in the offending.

Ram was the breadwinner for his family in India and also that of his brother, who had died. His family was disgraced by the events. His mother was said to be on her deathbed.

Ram still denied responsibility, so could not claim remorse, Rapley said.

Appearing for Tyagi, Simon Shamy said a distinction could be drawn between Tyagi and Ram, but it was likewise a tragedy for Tyagi and his family.

The offending was unpremeditated and not at the higher end of the scale. The inevitable deportation would be a penalty in itself, Shamy said.

Prosecutor Pip Currie said force had been used in that clothing was forcibly removed. The victim, who was plied with alcohol, also suffered injuries to the genitals.

The effects had caused her immense distress. She was subjected to a range of indecencies and was humiliated. Neither man showed remorse and seemed to be blaming the victim, Currie said.

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