Man jailed for violating girl

Russell John Gray. Photo: ODT
Russell John Gray. Photo: ODT
An 81-year-old Invercargill man who violated a young girl has received a prison sentence longer than he is expected to live.

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

Yesterday 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 because of 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 admitted to hospital 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 yesterday morning and said the offending "haunts [her] current existence".

"[The offending] has impacted on all aspects of my life," the victim 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.

The victim said going through the trial and reading her statement was difficult, but she was better for it.

"I feel so much better and it’s helped me move forward with my life ... I’m a better person for it," she said.

Gray continued to deny the offences 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.

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.