Women and Justice: Court: Court of Appeal of New Zealand

Domestic Case Law

S (CA338/2016) v. The Queen Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Appellant (who was 38 years of age at the time of the offences) appealed a sentence of imprisonment for kidnapping, disfiguring with intent to injury and wounding with intent to injure the complainant (who was 17 years of age at the time of the offences).  The complainant and appellant began a relationship after the complainant left the care of Child, Youth and Family (Ministry for Vulnerable Children).  The appellant accused the complainant of sexually assaulting his daughter. As punishment for the sexual assault and a condition for continuing their relationship, he convinced the complainant to allow him to break her finger with a rock. He subsequently subjected the complainant to other physical abuse, after which she fled to a neighbor for help.  The appellant argued at the Court of Appeal that a High Court Judge had wrongly withheld the defense of consent on the charge of wounding with intent to injure.  The Court dismissed the appeal and concluded that it was possible to eliminate the defense of consent depending on the specific facts of the case.  In this case, the Court found it permissible to eliminate the defense of consent because of the power imbalance between the parties, the fact that the complainant acquiesced because of a threat to their relationship, the gravity of domestic violence, and the severity of the injury.



Terranova Homes & Care Ltd v Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota Inc Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2014)

Gender discrimination

The work of caring for the elderly is “predominately performed by women.” Caregivers employed by Terranova alleged that both male and female caregivers were being paid less “than would be the case if caregiving of the aged were not work predominantly performed by women.” Terranova appealed the judgment of the Employment Court. On appeal, Terranova argued that the Act referred specifically to equal pay, rather than pay equity. The Court of Appeal rejected their argument, stating that “Pay equity is about equal pay. It is equal pay for work of equal value.” The Court relied on 3(1)(b) of the Equal Pay Act which “requires that equal pay for women for work predominantly or exclusively performed by women, is to be determined by reference to what men would be paid to do the same work abstracting from skills, responsibility, conditions and degrees of effort as well as from any systemic undervaluation of the work derived from current or historical or structural gender discrimination.” Terranova’s appeal was dismissed.



R v. AM Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2010)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted on charges for sexual offenses (including rape) against his three granddaughters. He was sentenced to a total of 15 years imprisonment for the lead offence of rape, with no minimum period of imprisonment. The Solicitor-General appealed on the ground that a minimum sentence of half the nominal sentence should have been imposed as a matter of law. The Court decided to update the sentencing guidelines for sexual offenses. It established (i) that the entire circumstances of the offense must be taken into account during sentencing and (ii) the following factors: planning and premediation, violence, detention and home invasion, vulnerability of the victim, harm to the victim, multiple offenders, scale of offending, breach of trust, hate crime, degree of violation, mistaken belief in consent, prior consensual activity and the views of the victim. It also established the following incarceration periods for the crime of rape: (i) Rape Band I consist of 6-8 years for offenses that do not trigger these factors because the encounters and degree of violation are brief; (ii) Rape Band 2 consist of 7-13 years for moderate levels of premediation and violence, involving two or three factors increasing culpability; (iii) Rape Band 3 consist of 12-18 years for serious culpability factors; and (iv) Rape Band 4 consist of 16-20 years for the most serious offenses, which will likely consist of multiple offenses. For non-rape, “unlawful sexual connection” (“USC”) cases, the following incarceration periods were established: (i) USC Band 1 consist of 2-5 years; (ii) USC Band 2 consist of 4-10 years; and (iii) USC Band 3 consist of 9-18 years, following the general guidelines of culpability defined above. Applying these standards to the case, the court held that a minimum period of imprisonment of seven and a half years (50 percent) should be imposed. The case is notable because the Court for the first time endeavored to give integrated sentencing guidelines for sexual offenses and – as part of this exercise – reviewed and updated its previous approach to rape offenses.



R v. Dawson Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2012)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of seven charges for raping two females. He was sentenced concurrently to 14 years imprisonment, with a minimum period of imprisonment of seven years, calculated as 12 years for each offense, plus an uplift of 12 months to reflect the separate rapes of two victims, plus other adjustments. The Solicitor-General appealed on the ground that the uplift to reflect separate rapes of two victims should have been higher than 12 months, and an end sentence of 16 to 18 years would have been correct. The court reasoned that this argument was essentially that a 14 year sentence was manifestly inadequate. Based on the facts, the court found that, while on the low end, this sentence did not meet this standard.



Solicitor-General v. Ahmed Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2009)

Sexual violence and rape

The respondent was convicted of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection (forcible oral sex) and as accessory to rape, and sentenced to four years imprisonment, calculated as 18 months for assisting to carry out the rape, four years for the unlawful sexual connection, plus some downward adjustments. The Solicitor-General argued that the court should have considered the rape as the primary offense and therefore started with a base of 8 years minimum period of imprisonment. The court found that the sentencing approach adopted by the Judge understated the seriousness of the respondent’s role in the overall offending and that seven years imprisonment was the appropriate sentence.



State v. Airline Limited Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2010)

Employment discrimination, Sexual violence and rape

A commercial airline pilot was dismissed after making an unscheduled overnight stop and having sexual relations with a cabin crew member. The pilot appealed to the Employment Court. The Employment Court declined to suppress the pilot’s name from the public record. The court held that the Employment Court was not wrong to find that the public’s right to know outweighed the pilot’s reputational interests, and dismissed the appeal.