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. AM
Court of Appeal of New Zealand