A guest post by David Garrett:
Highest second strike sentence show law is working exactly as intended
Left leaning pundits have reacted with glee to two recent cases in which Judges have invoked the “manifestly unjust” provision in the “three strikes” (3S) law to avoid what would otherwise have been a sentence of life without parole (LWOP) for two second strikers convicted of murder. I doubt they will say much about Hugh Hemi Tuatua Tareha, who yesterday received the longest “second strike” sentence yet – 12 years nine months – for sexually assaulting an 87 year old woman.
Tareha is pretty much the epitome of the type of offender 3S was intended to take out of circulation – a violent offender with a lengthy history who has a propensity for sexually attacking elderly women. A propensity which – according to a psychiatric report – is “escalating”, a view which the Probation Service shares.
His most recent offence was not just committed while on parole, but the day after he had appeared before the Parole Board, which wanted to monitor his progress. At that appearance he fooled the Parole Board a second time – the first was when he was released a year into a sentence of three years nine months for the robbery of an elderly woman because the Board believed he could be “managed in the community”.
At his appearance on 6 November last Tareha, according to media reports, convinced the Parole Board that he was, “motivated to make changes”. He was warned that he must not take either illegal drugs or synthetic cannabis, and his parole conditions were varied to that effect.
By 10.30 am the very next day, Tareha was high on alcohol and synthetic cannabis, and attacked his latest victim. As she weeded her front lawn, Tareha grabbed her as she tried to flee inside her house. He followed her inside where she was “forcefully violated” on the floor of her own home.
The woman suffered severe bruising, including from kicks administered by Tareha before he left. That same day Tareha talked his way into a 73 year old woman’s house and asked for a “kiss and cuddle”. She persuaded him to leave, and he indecently assaulted her as he brushed past her on his way out.
At trial the Crown sought Preventive Detention, an open ended sentence with a minimum period before an offender can apply to be released. The Judge declined to impose that sentence “by a fine margin”, and instead imposed a sentence of 12 years nine months – to be served in full because it is Tareha’s second strike.
It is important to note that if was not for 3S, this dangerous sex offender would be eligible for parole in four years, and in all likelihood be out on the street again in six or seven. Instead, because of 3S, elderly women are safe from his predations for almost 13 years.
It appears Tareha has “mental health issues” which, according to the Judge may not have been adequately addressed during his numerous prior sentences. That may be the case, and if so, the Department of Corrections now has almost 13 years to make him fit to be back in the community. Somehow I doubt that will happen.
When he is released he will be 44. According to the crim huggers like Mr Workman, he will at that age have lost his propensity to offend. Sadly I doubt that is the case. If he reoffends similarly – as his past suggests he will – he will go away for 20 more years without parole for a third strike.
I genuinely hope his “issues” can be addressed in prison. If they cannot, and he remains a danger to elderly women, then prison is the only place for him. I am very pleased that he will only get one more chance to offend against elderly women before he is eligible for the pension. That almost certainly would not be the case if 3S was not part of our law.
I’m very glad we have the three strikes law and Tareha will have to serve 13 years, not half of that.