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NZ: Rapist lied to work as salesman (Canterbury)

Publish Date: 16 Jul 2011
Source: The Press
By: Keith Lynch

POLICE ANGERED: John Clarke was interviewed on television by One News while on the run in 2007, and before surrendering to police.

A convicted rapist, who is not allowed contact with anyone aged under 16, lied to the Department of Corrections for months to work as a door-to-door salesman in Christchurch.

John Clarke, who now goes by the name John Connor, worked with a contractor for Sky TV from just before the February 22 earthquake and may have visited hundreds of homes in the city.

On June 21, after Sky was alerted to his background, Clarke was dismissed.

Last December, Connor was told by Corrections that he could not take a job working door to door as under a supervision order he was not allowed contact with anyone under the age of 16 – an order he then ignored.

Last night, Community Probation Services (CPS) general manager Katrina Casey said Connor could face charges in court on Monday of breaching an extended supervision order.

"The issue that we have is not that the offender may have been working for Sky, or a subcontractor, but the type of work he is alleged to have engaged in," Casey said.

"This is critical because it is completely inappropriate for someone with his offending background to engage in any work that would bring him into contact with people under the age of 16."

In 1997, Connor kidnapped and raped a 15-year-old schoolgirl after offering her a ride from a Lyttelton sports function.

He stopped near Governors Bay and attacked her.

He strangled her to the point of unconsciousness and threatening to kill her.

The man, then known as Clarke, was on bail at the time for attacking a 24-year-old woman nine months earlier.

He was jailed for 11 years for the two sex attacks.

He was due to be released in 2007.

While on home detention in preparation for his release he fled.

When he was on the run, One News interviewed Clarke, then filmed his surrender, a move that angered police.

On June 21, a member of the public contacted The Press to say they had spotted Connor working as a Sky salesman in Sockburn.

"He was positively identified by two separate people," the person wrote.

The Press passed the details of the message to police, who investigated the allegations.

Police spoke to Connor and told The Press they were not aware of any offences committed during his time selling Sky TV.

Sky TV spokeswoman Kirsty Way confirmed Connor worked for a contractor selling Sky TV door to door.

"Sky became aware of the situation on June 21 and he was let go that day," she said.

"Reference checks were done and the contractor had an email from the police saying his background was fine," Way said.

"Connor was dismissed from working for Sky as a contractor on the same day Sky was made aware of the possibility he could be this man."

Casey said Connor was serving an extended supervision order, which allowed it to monitor sex offenders for up to 10 years after their prison sentence.

The orders are used to monitor people who have sexually offended against people under the age 16.

After Connor was warned in December not to work door-to-door, he lied to Corrections and continued the job.

Connor continued to tell probation staff that he was not working door-to-door.

Corrections had no evidence to suggest otherwise, Casey said.

"In April 2011, Connor was formally interviewed by a probation officer and the topic of employment was raised," she said.

"He continued to deny that he was working," Casey said.

"The probation officer again directed Connor not to engage in door-to-door work as it was not approved employment for him."

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited