Monday, July 6, 2015
New Zealand: An illegal immigrant from Fiji who tied up an elderly woman with her own bed sheet and beat her until she lost consciousness will spend more than seven years behind bars
Dinesh Lal, 43, appeared for sentencing at the High Court at Auckland, charged with kidnapping, indecent assault, and aggravated robbery. He was found guilty of all three charges at an earlier trial at the same court but has continued to protest his innocence. Crown prosecutor Glyn Hughes described Lal's offending as "violent and opportunistic" with Lal's own lawyer, Glenn Dixon, saying that despite his client maintaining his "complete innocence...what you have is the targeting of a vulnerable lady at home for a specific purpose". According to the summary of facts, on January 8 2014, Lal armed himself with a knife and disguised himself with a mask before confronting the 76-year-old victim at her home as she opened her back door in the middle of the day. Justice Edwin Wylie said that he dragged the victim to her bedroom where he bound the woman with bed sheets before punching her three times, ripping jewellery from her body and indecently assaulting her. After she lost consciousness he threw her on the ground and "paid no further attention to her" as he rifled through the rest of her house. He stole a further $200 from her drawers and made off with her jewelry. The victim, who has name suppression, submitted through a victim impact statement to the court that she still felt fearful whenever she went outside and had ongoing pain from the attack. "She remains scared and fearful, worries every time she goes outside that she will be attacked again and no longer feels safe in her own home," Justice Wylie said. He described the offending as "humiliating and degrading" for the victim who would have been "terrified". According to a probation report, Lal had an "excellent" upbringing in Fiji and had gone on to marry and have two daughters before moving to New Zealand with his family in 2008. He began working as a boat-builder but his work visa expired in 2013 and had been living and working in the country illegally since then. Justice Wylie indicated that he would be deported after finishing his sentence. There were no mitigating factors to Lal's offending, Justice Wylie said, noting in particular that he had effectively gone on the run after police attempted to interview him about the crime. He had offered to pay no reparations because of his perceived innocence. Justice Wylie sentenced Lal to seven years, six months imprisonment and ordered no minimum period should be served.