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NZ: Rapist next door alarms victim (Southland)

Publish Date: 08 Dec 2011
Source: The Southland Times
By: Evan Harding

An Invercargill rape victim is living in fear after her attacker moved into a house next door, and police say there is nothing they can do.

The convicted rapist, Craig James Crofts, 48, was sentenced to four years' jail in 2004 after admitting raping the woman.

She has since moved on with her life, but the rape ordeal came flooding back about a month ago when she discovered her attacker had moved into a city property beside her flat.

The two residences are so close that, when Crofts is in one part of his block of units, he can see directly into the front window of his former victim's flat, which she shares with her partner.

The woman was in tears as she told The Southland Times this week that, while she had an indefinite protection order in place against Crofts, the order did not specifically say he could not live beside her.

"I just don't feel safe knowing he is living there, all I want is for him to move on," the woman said.

"When I see him I feel very shaky and that's how he affects me, it just brings everything back - I hate him living next to me."

Crofts has an extensive criminal history which also includes being jailed for 12 months last year after continually returning to another woman's house to steal her underwear, later returning with some of the underwear ripped and hanging it on her clothesline.

Judge Kevin Phillips, in sentencing Crofts for the offence, said he was a high-risk recidivist offender with borderline intellectual function. He had limited controls and a strong sexual drive, the judge said.

Crofts told The Southland Times this week he knew his victim's address when he moved next door to her about three months ago, but claimed he had nowhere else to go.

He realised that she felt uncomfortable with him living next door, but he also felt nervous when he saw her because he didn't know if she would ring police, he said.

He had served his time in jail and wanted to live a peaceful life, he said.

"If I can get over it, why can't she? It's past tense."

Police visited Crofts after he moved in and advised him to move out, but he had not, he said.

It is understood his special prison release conditions in 2008 stipulated that for six months he was forbidden to go anywhere near his victim's then address, but those conditions ran out nearly two years ago.

Southern District police area commander Inspector Lane Todd confirmed that police had no legislative power to prevent Crofts from living next door to his victim unless he committed another offence.

All police could do was visit him and tell him it was in everyone's best interests that he move on.

Garth McVicar of the Sensible Sentencing Trust said the law was full of flaws and did not protect the victim in this case.

"The law should be about common sense and this is one of the dumbest things I've heard," he said. "The police should be able to go in and move him on."

There had been similar cases in the past where rapists had moved into the same neighbourhood as their victims and the protest from the community had forced the offender to move out of the area, McVicar said.

"The community can solve this if the police can't - run him out of town," he said. "I'd like to think the community would back her and the protest would be so loud he'll move on."

Todd said the scenario was similar to when freed paedophiles moved into homes which were located beside schools.

"We can suggest strongly that they move but we don't have legislative powers, unfortunately," he said.

Todd suggested the woman seek assistance from Victim Support.

A spokeswoman for Police Minister Judith Collins said the law contained provision for protection orders, which people could apply for if they felt they were at risk.

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited

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"If I can get over it, why can't she? It's past tense."  This offender shows an utter lack of insight into the shattering impact that rape can have on a person long-term.