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NZ: Paedophile may remain a risk (Canterbury)

Publish Date: 27 Oct 2011
Source: The Press
By: David Clarkson

The Crown is having second thoughts about its decision not to seek an open-ended preventive detention sentence for a former Sunday school teacher who disclosed more sex offences involving children, while he was undergoing treatment in prison.

Shane Allan Harris, 39, disclosed 16 sex charges against eight young girls while doing the Kia Marama sex offenders' programme in Christchurch Men's Prison.

After his guilty pleas, the Crown decided not to seek preventive detention but it has been rethinking that decision after access was barred to reports on his treatment at the programme.

Without those reports, the Crown faced a difficult assessment of any future risk to the community that Harris might pose.

In court today, Harris agreed to allow access by the Crown and his defence counsel to reports prepared on his treatment after crown prosecutor Nicola Robson sought a direction on the matter from Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders.

Harris has a history of offending stretching back 20 years and the latest offences for which he now faces sentencing were committed from the 1990s to 2005 in Timaru.

He is seen as having a deeply entrenched sexual attraction to children, and is assessed as a high-risk pornography offender.

He is serving a two-year four-month term imposed in May last year for possession of objectionable material including images of bestiality and child pornography.

He has confessed to seven charges of indecent assaults on girls aged under 12, two of having unlawful sexual connection with a girl under 12, four of doing an indecent act on girls under 12, and indecent assault, unlawful sexual connection, and rape of girls aged under 16.

Harris has helped to teach at a Sunday School in Timaru and has been employed as a septic tank cleaner.

Judge Saunders said the report on Harris' treatment over the last nine months would be more useful to the court than new reports prepared by health assessors.

The case was due for sentence on November 25 with several of the victims planning to travel to Christchurch to see him sentenced but that date has now been abandoned.

But Judge Saunders has now remanded him in custody to November 24 for the treatment report to be provided and a sentencing date will be set at that session.

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited