Abuse over 25 years admitted

Five victims of a man's sexual abuse faced him across a Dunedin courtroom yesterday as he admitted responsibility for offending over a 25-year period.

Dunedin man Basil Raymond Heazlewood (73) had been due to stand trial in the Dunedin District Court on 31 charges of indecent assault, rape and intentional injury.

All but three of the charges relate to alleged offending between 1961 and 1983 against four young girls.

The complainant in the remaining three charges was 28 at the time of alleged indecencies against her.

Following ongoing discussions between Crown and defence counsels, Craig Power and John Westgate, Heazlewood changed his plea to guilty on 17 charges and was remanded in custody for sentence on June 13.

He was discharged on the remaining 14 charges. Judge Kevin Phillips had delayed Heazlewood's arraignment until late morning so all five complainants could be in court to hear their abuser admit responsibility.

Potential jurors were also present. Judge Phillips said he thought it was appropriate Heazlewood should plead in front of the jury panel because, had the case proceeded to trial, 12 of them would have been chosen to hear the case.

Heazlewood pleaded guilty to two representative charges of indecently assaulting one girl between 1961 and 1964, when she was aged between 8 and 12.

Another six charges - three representative indecent assaults, one intentional injury, and one specific rape and representative charge covering multiple rapes - related to offending against a second girl, between about 1974 and 1983.

The offences began when the girl was 6 and continued until she was 16 or 17.

Heazlewood admitted two indecent assaults against a third girl when she was aged about 4, between November 1973 and November 1974.

He admitted four charges of indecently assaulting a fourth girl (two of the charges covering more than one offence) and two of raping her, between 1978 and 1982, from when she was about 10.

The final charge Heazlewood admitted was one of indecently assaulting a 28-year-old woman at Dunedin between June 1985 and June 1986.

He had touched or groped the woman's breasts while she was staying at his home following the end of her marriage.

Heazlewood hit one young girl with his belt (injuring with intent) and called her ''a dirty slut'' because he saw her with ''hickies'' on her neck when she was a teenager.