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Jail For Accountant Who Groomed Girls For Sex

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Oct 15 NZPA - An accountant who carried out an "unrelenting campaign of sexual grooming" of young girls has been jailed for nearly seven years.

Michael Stuart Harris, 50, of Pyes Pa, 16km south of Tauranga, appeared for sentencing in Tauranga District Court yesterday, the Bay of Plenty Times reported.

He was earlier found guilty of three charges of indecent assault on a female aged under 16, six of doing indecent acts on females aged under 12, plus one of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

All the offending took place between August 1, 2006, and July 5 last year.

Crown prosecutor Julie O'Brien said the aggravating features to the offending were that it had been a gross breach of trust by Harris.

She said a serious aggravating feature was that Harris threatened his victims with bad consequences designed to prevent them disclosing to other people what was happening.

Harris' lawyer, Paul Mabey QC, said while Harris had left the dock in July not accepting the verdicts, he had moved on from that point and made some admissions, going a long way toward facing up to his offending.

Judge Peter Rollo said until Harris took full responsibility, he would remain a risk to the community.

Serious harm was caused by Harris through his "unrelenting campaign of sexual grooming" in order to abuse three young girls.

"One only has to wonder, Mr Harris, what would have been your next step if your offending had not been reported," the judge said.

Judge Rollo jailed Harris for six years and nine months and ordered he must serve at least three years behind bars.

"I consider your criminality at the highest level and there is a need to deter and denounce this sort of sexual degradation which you perpetrated to satisfy your own base desires," the judge said.

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