Court upholds social worker's sex abuse conviction

A former Dunedin social worker who sexually abused girls in his care during the 1980s has failed to have his convictions quashed.

Edward Anand was also unsuccessful in having his sentence of 13 years' jail reduced following a Court of Appeal hearing last month.

The defendant was convicted of five charges of rape and seven of indecent assault against girls between the ages of 10 and 15, after a jury trial at the Dunedin District Court in March 2016.

The offending occurred at the former Girls' Home in Elliot St, Dunedin, between 1980 and 1986, which Judge Kevin Phillips said became a ''dangerous and soul-destroying place'' during Anand's reign of terror.

At trial, the court heard how the man had abused girls not only at the home but during outings in a van belonging to the facility.

Anand had also taken one of the complainants home and sexually assaulted her there.

Before the Court of Appeal, the man made sweeping claims about why his trial was unfair.

All jurors were of European descent, nine of them were men and the appellant submitted the jury ought to have included more women and might also have been prejudiced against him because he was a Fijian Indian by birth.

Justices Murray Gilbert, John Lang and Rebecca Ellis, in their decision released this week, dismissed that claim.

''The fact that the jury was able to find Mr Anand not guilty on several charges also suggests that the jury worked conscientiously through the charges and delivered verdicts in accordance with their collective view of the evidence,'' Justice Lang said.

''There is no reason to believe the jury may have been prejudiced against Mr Anand by some form of racial bias.''

They were similarly unmoved by argument that a 13-year prison term was too harsh to reflect Anand's offending.

''Mr Anand's conduct was premeditated. It involved a significant element of grooming because he understood the complainants' backgrounds and used that knowledge to gain their trust,'' Justice Lang said.

''Some of the offending also involved Mr Anand providing the complainants with gifts, such as cigarettes, before offending against them. The offending has also resulted in what the judge described as 'incalculable harm' to the victims.''


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