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Library Redesign Wanted After Attack On Girl

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Library Redesign Wanted After Attack On Girl

Christchurch, March 3 NZPA - Parents of a little girl sexually assaulted by an elderly man in Christchurch's Shirley Library want a rethink of library design to make them safer for children.

The couple have put their views to Christchurch City Libraries and believe they are being considered.

The five-year-old girl's mother said after the sentencing of the 81-year-old man today: "Children's sections are hidden away at the back, sheltered from view. They need to be put in a more prominent position with a lending desk in the vicinity, and a designated children's librarian."

Because of the automatic suppressions that apply to victims of sex offences, the family cannot be identified.

The couple stood together in the Christchurch District Court today for the father to read out the family's victim impact statement at the sentencing of Ting Shue Yee, who had pleaded guilty last year to the indecent assault charge.

Yee wept in the dock as Judge Philip Moran described his life and the effects of his offending.

The sentence imposed on the elderly man, in frail health and speaking no English, was community detention at his home in Shirley.

The judge said it would not have been just to jail him. He said Yee was "not a predator", but a man with no criminal history who had taken an opportunity to offend against the girl.

Yee's defence counsel, Tim Twomey, said the man could not explain the offending on August 25, but was ashamed for himself and his family and was distressed about the effects on the girl and her family.

"He simply took leave of his senses," said Mr Twomey.

Prosecutor Marcus Zintl said the crown was concerned that there was a creche not far from the man's home, and asked for him to have a daytime curfew from 8am to 9pm, which was the time when libraries closed.

But Judge Moran settled on six months of community detention with a curfew until 8pm. He said if Yee went out in the evenings, he expected it would be spending the time with his family.

"You took advantage of an opportunity that presented itself. You didn't go looking for children to abuse. That is a very relevant consideration when I have to think about the safety of the community."

The girl's father spoke of the disruption to the family, and the daughter's "bouts of intense anger and sadness". She had previously been a happy and positive girl.

"I hope that Mr Yee has a sense of remorse and realises that what he has done to (our daughter) is wrong and that he has taken away the innocence of a five-year-old child."

Judge Moran thanked them for making the statement in court and for their courage. Yee had already been shown the statement, but it was translated again for him in court.

Yee was at the library one afternoon, waiting for his own daughter, when the mother was there with her three daughters. When she took one daughter to the toilet, Yee beckoned to the five-year-old to sit beside him. He then put his hand down her underwear and touched her with sufficient force to cause redness and swelling to her genitals.

Judge Moran said the girl was now angry and fearful and her sleep was disturbed.

He said Yee had never offended before. He was a Chinese national who emigrated about 17 years ago to follow his children, and was now a New Zealand citizen.

He had recurrent bouts of severe depression, including episodes before he left China, soon after his arrival in New Zealand in 1992, and later after the death of his wife, and the death of his son-in-law.

He had another episode after his arrest, but had since recovered.

Judge Moran said he did not accept suggestions that Yee was not remorseful and cared more about the shame he had brought on his family than the harm caused to the girl.

"I do accept what your lawyer tells me, that you do understand you committed a very serious offence and that you are ashamed and sorry."

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