Botanic Garden indecent assaulter's appeal dismissed

An Invercargill man who indecently assaulted a woman in the Dunedin Botanic Garden last year had his sentence appeal dismissed.

Sonny James Kennedy was sentenced in May this year to 25 months' jail for driving while suspended, committing an indecent act in a public place, indecent assault and the possession of cannabis.

The charges occurred on separate occasions between March and August last year.

In the appeal decision from Justice David Gendall released last week, it says at the time of the original sentencing, Judge Bernadette Farnan took the lead charge as the indecent assault against a woman who had been lying in the Dunedin Botanic Garden listening to music and reading a book.

Kennedy entered the garden wearing heavy clothes and sunglasses, which the police described as a ``partial disguise''.

In her decision, Judge Farnan said to describe Kennedy's behaviour towards the victim as disgusting would be an understatement.

The indecent act occurred in the early afternoon of July 3, 2018 while Kennedy watched two young children run around rugby park as part of their physical education programme.

Judge Farnan said Kennedy's offending in both the indecent act and indecent assault were entirely premeditated.

"He used a disguise and his actions were planned. The appellant had thus moved from offending in a public place to offending in a more isolated area''.

In her appeal submission, counsel Kate McHugh said the end sentence imposed was excessive and a different sentence - home detention - should have been imposed.

Ms McHugh believed Judge Farnan had erred in adopting a starting point of three years' imprisonment for the lead offence, erred in principle by placing undue emphasis on the appellant attending a Corrections rehabilitative programme, leading to the imposition of a sentence greater than what was otherwise justified, and said the credit applied to reflect personal mitigating features and the appellant's guilty plea was inadequate.

Justice Gendall, in his decision, arrived at slightly over 24 months as the sentence he would have imposed.

"This is virtually the same final result as Judge Farnan reached of 25 months or two years one month imprisonment, and any interference with this figure here, as I see it, would purely be tinkering.''

Justice Gendall dismissed the appeal.


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