Rapist begged victim not to go to police

William Laidler
William Laidler
The day after a Dunedin man committed a violent rape, he professed his love for the victim and begged her not to go to police, a court has heard.

William Andrew Laidler (22) said in the messages that he did not want to go to prison.

But his fears were realised at the Dunedin District Court on Tuesday when Judge John Macdonald jailed him for five years and seven months.

On the evening of April 22, 2017, Laidler and his victim had consensual sex.

However, the next morning it was a different story.

He wanted sex; she did not.

He forced a pillow over her head and continued regardless of her protests.

The woman did not go to police until nine months later and despite suffering injuries as a result of the attack, she had not sought medical attention at the time.

Those factors, Judge Macdonald said, enhanced Laidler’s chance of an acquittal at trial — but for the resourcefulness of the victim.

The defendant messaged her after the rape and she retained a copy of the exchange which was presented to the jury at trial last year.

“Those [messages], I suggest, were crucial to the outcome of the trial,” the judge said.

Laidler pleaded with his victim not to go to the police and said he did not know what was wrong with him.

Desperate, he told the woman he loved her and that they urgently needed to talk.

The first word she messaged in response was telling.

“Rapist.”

She described in graphic detail what she remembered of the incident and expressed her disbelief it had happened.

Laidler called it ‘‘the biggest mistake’’ of his life and claimed he felt so worthless he might kill himself.

Critically, he did not deny the rape. That was, until he got to court and pleaded not guilty to the charge.

It was the defence case at trial that Laidler had made sexual advances that morning and when rebuffed he had backed off.

“The jury plainly reached a different view,” Judge Macdonald said.

The victim, in a statement, spoke of the panic attacks and anxiety she had suffered as a result of her ordeal. The rape had ruined her life and being put through the pain of giving evidence was painful again.

Despite that, counsel Anne Stevens QC said Laidler was remorseful and had written a letter to the woman taking full responsibility for his actions, so her client’s sentence should be reduced because of his contrition. The judge said that would be “inappropriate”.

The victim’s father told the Otago Daily Times he was still “very angry” about what his daughter had been forced to endure.

“Everyone tells you to move on ... but I just hope it doesn’t happen to someone else,” he said, then paid tribute to police officers and Victim Support staff who looked after his family.

A protection order was made in favour of the victim.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz