'High risk': Sex offender loses bid for freedom

Nyal Heke was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for rape and later had extra time added to his...
Nyal Heke was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for rape and later had extra time added to his sentence for a prison assault. PHOTO: STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
A Dunedin man who poses "a high risk of violent reoffending" will remain behind bars.

Nyal Heke is serving a prison sentence of 11 years for serious sexual and violent offending.

Last month the board declined his application for parole.

"Mr Heke was assessed as sharing the characteristics of a group of offenders who pose a high risk of violent re-offending and an above average risk of serious sexual re-offending," the decision said.

The inmate had completed some rehabilitative programmes but the board thought a further course was required.

"Mr Heke himself was highly motivated to progress along that pathway," the decision said.

In June 2018, Heke was jailed for a decade after a jury at the Dunedin District Court found him guilty on two counts of rape.

The charges arose after he approached a woman in central Dunedin the previous year.

She rebuffed his advances but Heke followed her and ushered her into a secluded walkway where the violations took place.

The victim identified Heke as the offender after she found him online and sought an apology and an assurance the rapist would not attack another woman.

"I’m really sorry. I won’t ever do that again. You have my word ... you are safe," he responded.

In November 2017, while Heke was on remand at the Otago Corrections Facility, he assaulted 47-year-old Grant Steven Bowden which left him with a serious head injury.

The attack ultimately led to Bowden’s death and CCTV footage from the exercise yard was played at a coronial inquiry in January.

It showed that minutes after the pair had an initial, brief clash there was further posturing and Bowden aimed punches and kicks at Heke, who dodged the blows.

He threw a flurry of punches in response, one of which connected and sent the victim crashing on to the concrete.

Medical staff saved Bowden’s life by removing part of his skull to relieve the pressure built up by his brain swelling but in December 2018, he developed a chest infection and died in Waitakere Hospital.

Heke had 15 months added to his sentence after admitting causing grievous bodily harm with intent to injure.

Heke’s statutory release date is in February 2028 but he will next see the board in October.