Thirty-year-old Dilbagh Singh is today starting a nine-year jail sentence for the rapes of a teenager. The sentence was passed down via Christchurch District Court as Singh wept and pleaded his innocence.
The teenager’s victim impact statement was read in court, telling how she was struggling with depression and anxiety and had lost all her self-confidence. She said Singh had raped her for his own selfish pleasure. “You took from me something that wasn’t yours to have.” The teenager was raped three times in a semi-public space.
Singh had recently met the woman he raped in June 2018. She said he forced himself on her one day, while she was crying throughout, and had not consented. She gave evidence that he had raped her twice the following day.
Singh was found guilty of the rapes at an October trial where the only issue was the credibility of the young complainant. He cried and protested his innocence during the dock before he was sentenced.
Judge David Saunders told Singh: “Despite your claim of innocence, I now have to sentence you in accordance with the verdicts. I have no concern about the truthfulness of the complainant who has told you how great an impact your actions have had on her.”
He noted the victim’s comment that Singh had left her afterwards “like a piece of trash you could throw away and not think twice about”.
Singh complained from the dock that his first lawyer had not explained to him how the jury system worked or told him he could have applied for name suppression. He did not accept the jury’s verdicts.
“Everything is just not right or fair. I haven’t been given a fair chance to defend myself,” he said.
“My whole family is suffering a lot. It is just not fair,” he told Judge Saunders. “There is no evidence in my case.”
At the trial, his present defence counsel Donald Matthews had argued the 17-year-old complainant’s allegations were “fantastical, nonsense”. The woman claimed she had been raped three times, over two days, in a semi-public place.
She complained about the rapes about six months later, but the Crown called a woman who saw her soon after one of the incidents and found her distressed. The defence said the two women had colluded in their allegations and their evidence.
At the trial, the Crown described the complainant as a naïve and shy young woman.
The jury took about three hours to return to court with its three guilty verdicts.
The judge said he could see that Singh was still distressed about the verdicts, but this was the way the jury system worked. Singh had been represented by competent counsel who had cross-examined witnesses, and Singh’s video interview with the police, in which he denied the offending, had been shown to the jury. The jury must have accepted that the complainant was truthful and credible.
He could not reduce Singh’s sentence for any remorse or guilty pleas, but he made an allowance for his previous good character since he came to New Zealand from India eight years ago.
He jailed him for nine years six months and gave him a first strike warning.