Marcus Barker admitted unlawful sexual connection with a 15-year-old, receiving sexual services from her and arranging for her to supply sexual services. (File photo)
Northlanders are dismayed a 12-month home detention sentence for a man involved in the alleged underage sex trafficking case has not been appealed.
Kaitaia businessman Marcus Barker, 55, admitted unlawful sexual connection with a 15-year-old, receiving sexual services from her and arranging for her to supply sexual services.
He faced a maximum term of 10 years in prison but in the Kaikohe District Court on September 4 he was instead sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and ordered to pay $1000 reparation to the victim.
Judge Deidre Orchard had indicated a sentence of four years’ imprisonment but decided Barker deserved a discount for his early guilty plea, police co-operation, lack of prior convictions and genuine good character.
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She also decided home detention was appropriate so Barker could continue his sole-trade cleaning business.
The sentence attracted a small protest of frustration outside Kaikohe District Court.
This week, Crown Law confirmed it will not be appealing the sentence.
Mike Shaw, a Kaikohe spokesman for community group Stop Demand, said that was very disappointing for the whole community.
“The community is feeling not very well served by the justice system, in terms of a deterrent.”
Barker’s sentence was supposed to not set a precedent for the rest of the alleged underage sex trafficking accused, but Shaw was frustrated to hear Barker’s sentenced used as a benchmark in Kaikohe on Monday.
Pentecostal church leader Michael Cornelis Weitenberg, 55, and Kawakawa’s Owen James Sigley, 67, were sentenced to six months’ and nine months’ home detention respectively.
Both had admitted a lesser charge of receiving sexual services from a 15-year-old, which has a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.
Shaw said he was astonished not only by the sentences, but by comments made by Judge Brandt Shortland, who referred to the 15-year-old’s “abilities” being exploited and Sigley trying to “satisfy his needs” as a male.
“I was a bit stunned by the whole thing … To me it appeared that the perpetrators were portrayed as the victims.”
The case continues with a 35-year-old man facing a total of 20 charges, including sexual violation of a 14-year-old and 15-year-old.
A fifth man, 37-year-old Calvin Fairburn, denies sexual connection with a 15-year-old and receiving sexual services from her.