Rapist’s prison sentence remains

William Laidler will remain behind bars and will see the Parole Board for the first time in 11...
William Laidler will remain behind bars and will see the Parole Board for the first time in 11 months. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A Dunedin man who forced a pillow over his victim’s head while he raped her has had his appeal knocked back.

William Andrew Laidler (23) was jailed for five years seven months when he was sentenced by Judge John Macdonald in January after being found guilty at trial.

On the evening of April 22, 2017, Laidler and his victim had consensual sex, but the next morning the woman rebuffed his advances.

He put a pillow over her head and continued regardless of her protests.

Nine months later, the victim went to police.

With no physical evidence of what had happened, the case appeared weak, but an online conversation the woman retained proved critical.

During the exchange, which was shown to the jury, Laidler pleaded with his victim not to go to the police and said he did not know what was wrong with him.

He told the woman he loved her and that they urgently needed to talk.

She responded with a single word.

"Rapist."

Laidler called it "the biggest mistake" of his life and claimed he felt so worthless he might kill himself.

Significantly, he did not deny the rape — until the case got to court.

Laidler claimed at trial that the violation had not happened, but after the guilty verdict he wrote to the victim acknowledging his wrongdoing.

Counsel Anne Stevens QC said that demonstration of remorse should have resulted in a lighter sentence for her client.

She argued Laidler should also have received greater credit for his previous good character.

In the Court of Appeal, Justice Christine French said the discount applied by the sentencing judge could have been greater but he made no clear error.

It was revealed at the hearing last month that while on bail for the rape charge, Laidler offended against his girlfriend and was convicted of assault and wilful damage.

He also breached bail on two other occasions, Justice French noted, one of which involved him tailgating a car being driven by the victim.

As a result of her ordeal, the woman said she had developed an anxiety disorder, experienced nightmares about the rape, had suicidal thoughts and found it difficult to trust people.

She doubted that she would ever be the person she once was.

Laidler will see the Parole Board in July next year.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

 

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