Invercargill paedophile will likely die in jail

Russell John Gray.
Russell John Gray.
An 81-year-old Invercargill man who violated a young girl has received a prison sentence longer than his life expectancy.

In September, Russell John Gray, 81, was found guilty by a jury on five charges of indecent assault and three charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

This morning in the Invercargill District Court, Judge Duncan Harvey sentenced the man to four years, nine months’ imprisonment.

A letter from Gray’s doctor said he was expected to live for two-and-a-half years due to his ill health and age.

“It's certainly realistic that he could well die in prison,” counsel Hugo Young said.

He said his client had already had a collapse while awaiting sentence and was hospitalised as a result.

The offending occurred between 2007 and 2009 and began when the victim was just 11.

At trial, the court heard the man would massage the victim’s legs which progressed into inappropriate touching and sexual violation.

Gray would also buy the girl gifts such as cigarettes and alcohol, which the crown said was to ensure she would not expose his crimes.

The victim read her impact statement in court this morning and said the offending “haunts [her] current existence”.

“[The offending] has impacted on all aspects of my life,” she said.

“The pain is unbearable and I must work hard every day to push it deep inside me to manage my daily existence.”

The court heard she was cautious about leaving her own child with other people.

Gray continued to deny the convictions when he spoke to a Probation Officer but had nothing else to say because “the judge had already made up his mind”.

“It was the jury not I that convicted you, but I must say I agree with their verdicts,” Judge Harvey said.

“Sadly [the victim] now knows that you continue to call her a liar.”

The judge allowed discounts for Gray’s ill health and previous good character.

He said the man had no criminal history and a term of imprisonment would be harder for him than a healthy person.