'Lost trust in humanity': Fruit-picker jailed for sexually violating two women on same night

A fruit picker from New Caledonia preyed on two intoxicated, sleeping women on the same night, a court has heard.

Michael Tetuaearo (28) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection. Both offences took place on December 19 last year.

One of the women said she approached the defendant the following morning expecting an apology.

That never came and the victim said she was confused by Tetuaearo's comment that he "respected" her.

She looked into his eyes and saw "a bad man", she wrote in a statement, and decided she would go to the police.

The court heard Tetuaearo and his victims were part of a group who were drinking that night following a day of work.

The first woman retired to bed about midnight, after feeling unwell from alcohol consumption.

She vomited several times before falling asleep but she was woken by Tetuaearo violating her.

The victim yelled at him to get out and he returned to the party.

However, an hour later when another intoxicated young woman went to bed, he struck again.

She, too, had vomited but Tetuaearo ignored that, climbing inside her tent, removing all his clothes and performing a sex act on her.

The defendant eventually walked away but left personal items behind.

When police interviewed him, he accepted committing the crimes but claimed he had been checking on the second victim.

He said he had removed his clothing to mop up her vomit and also to keep her warm.

Counsel Roger Eagles stressed the brevity of each incident and that his client had been open about what had occurred.

He argued Tetuaearo was remorseful despite suggestions to the contrary from Probation.

Judge Jim Large agreed with Crown prosecutor Robin Bates that there was some premeditation evident from the fact the defendant targeted a second woman.

The women had been significantly affected by their respective ordeals.

The first had been unable to get ACC-funded counselling because she did not speak English, instead having to pay for her own treatment.

Like the younger victim, she had "lost trust in humanity", she said.

The second woman, in a statement, wrote about how she now struggled to sleep and panicked if the doors to her home were not locked.

Tetuaearo had "taken away her hopeful outlook on life".

Judge Large jailed the man for two years, taking into account the difficulty he would have serving the sentence away from his home.

He was given a first strike under the three-strikes regime.

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