House party rapists' jail terms reduced on appeal

Two 20-year-old men convicted of raping a drunk 15-year-old girl at a Christchurch house party have had their jail term reduced after a successful appeal.

Brooke Rolleston and Brandon Roche were convicted at Christchurch District Court last year after a jury found them guilty of the January 2016 rape and sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection of the teenage girl.

Judge Alistair Garland sentenced Rolleston to 11 years and two months' imprisonment and Roche to 10 years and nine months' imprisonment.

The pair appealed their convictions after claiming they did not receive a fair trial because of apparent juror bias. They also alleged their sentences were manifestly excessive.

When interviewed by the police, both men admitted having simultaneously engaged in sexual acts with the complainant but maintained it was consensual.

Today, the Court of Appeal released its judgment which throws out the pair's appeals against their convictions, concluding that allegations of juror bias were unfounded.

However, Rolleston had his prison term reduced by 15 months, with a new sentence of nine years and 11 months' imprisonment, while Roche had his sentence of 10 years and nine months' imprisonment quashed and substituted with a sentence of nine years and seven months' imprisonment.

The appeal judges found that the pair's age should have attracted a greater reduction by Judge Garland who "placed considerable weight on the failure of either young man to take responsibility for their offending".

"We accept that feature, together with their regrettable attitude and lack of understanding of the impact of their offending on the victim, is indicative of a lack of contrition or remorse. However, it is equally indicative of their immaturity," the Court of Appeal concluded.

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