Sex abuser likely to spend rest of his life be­hind bars

Ex­clu­sive Man tried to blame of­fend­ing on first vic­tim, an 8-year-old abused in 1960s

The New Zealand Herald - - News - Anna Leask crime and jus­tice

An 82-year-old South Auck­land man has been jailed for likely the rest of his life for more than 50 years of “se­ri­ous and sus­tained” sex of­fend­ing against lit­tle girls.

Peter Brian Ash­ford claimed the girls “wanted it” and he tried to blame his of­fend­ing on his first vic­tim, say­ing if she had re­ported him to the po­lice he would have been stopped long ago.

Ash­ford was jailed for 12 years and eight months by Judge John Bergseng in the Manukau Dis­trict Court on Fri­day.

He had ear­lier pleaded guilty to 27 charges re­lat­ing to girls aged be­tween 8 and 13 in­clud­ing rapes and at­tempted rapes, sex­ual vi­o­la­tions and in­de­cent as­saults.

Ash­ford be­gan of­fend­ing in the 1960s when he was in his early 30s.

He lived in a caravan at var­i­ous places in the Whanga¯rei and Auck­land ar­eas.

The Her­ald can­not pub­lish de­tails of his vic­tims, but all were known to him and were of­ten left alone with him.

His first vic­tim was just 8 when Ash­ford set his sights on her.

The sec­ond vic­tim was abused by Ash­ford for three years in the 1980s, start­ing when she was 13.

From 2006 un­til af­ter he turned 80 in 2016 he re­peat­edly abused a group of girls aged be­tween 8 and 11. Of­ten, the sex­ual abuse was seen by other chil­dren. On one oc­ca­sion he lined up five girls and sex­u­ally abused them in turn.

Ash­ford would “re­ward” the girls for sub­mit­ting to the abuse with food or money. He threat­ened them, say­ing if they told any­one what he was do­ing they would be pun­ished.

Judge Bergseng re­vealed that when speak­ing to the a court re­port writer, Ash­ford tried to min­imise his of­fend­ing.

“You ar­tic­u­lated to the re­port writer that on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions you didn’t know what you were do­ing was wrong, stat­ing ‘they don’t teach you those things’.” he said.

“No vic­tim em­pa­thy was present, nor re­gret or re­morse for your ac­tions; you de­nied caus­ing harm to your vic­tims.

“You at­trib­uted blame to [the first vic­tim] for not re­port­ing you to the po­lice . . . be­cause if you had been caught and pros­e­cuted you may not have gone on to of­fend against other vic­tims,” the judge said.

“You jus­ti­fied some of your of­fend­ing against your vic­tims by stat­ing ‘she wanted it’.”

In re­la­tion to the more re­cent of­fend­ing, Ash­ford claimed he “did not hurt them” and that they “en­joyed it”.

Ash­ford told his lawyer Wendy An­drews he “got away with it” for a long time but now his of­fend­ing had been re­vealed he was “very re­morse­ful and ashamed of his con­duct”.

“It’s ter­ri­ble th­ese girls weren’t pro­tected.

“All of that is ac­knowl­edged by him . . . He has said time and time again he ex­pects to die in prison.”

Judge Bergseng said there was no in­di­ca­tion Ash­ford was gen­uinely re­morse­ful.

He said Ash­ford had dif­fi­culty tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for his ac­tions and was highly prone to min­imis­ing his of­fend­ing and try­ing to shift the blame on to the girls.

Based on all the of­fend­ing and the ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors — the decades, lev­els and amount of abuse, dam­age to the vic­tims and the sig­nif­i­cant breach of trust — Judge Bergseng adopted a start­ing point of 20 years in prison for Ash­ford.

He then gave a dis­count of 25 per cent for the early guilty plea which spared the vic­tims from a lengthy trial and a small dis­count for his old age and mildly de­clin­ing health.

He re­fused to give any fur­ther dis­count for pre­vi­ous good char­ac­ter.

“This is 50 years of of­fend­ing,” he said. “It may well be that you never walk out of prison.” Ash­ford must serve half of his sen­tence be­fore he is el­i­gi­ble for pa­role. Judge Bergseng also or­dered him to pay repa­ra­tion of more than $100,000 — money he has ac­cess to af­ter he sold his prop­erty while in prison — to the vic­tims.

Peter Brian Ash­ford

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