Police have thanked the Tuatapere community for their assistance with the investigation into the abduction, sexual violation and aggravated burglary of two Dutch tourists on 15 January this year.
Maakiti Joseph Tipene, a 25-year-old shearer from Tuatapere, was sentenced today in Invercargill on charges relating to the attack on the 22-year-old female and 25-year old male.
Mr Tipene pleaded guilty to 10 charges including rape, unlawful sexual connection, kidnapping and aggravated burglary. He was sentenced to 10 years' in prison with a minimum of seven years non-parole.
"Police would like to thank the Tuatapere community for their assistance in this enquiry. This coupled with good enquiry work from local police in the initial stages resulted in the early apprehension of the offender," officer-in-charge of the case, Detective Sergeant Dave Nelson said.
"The early guilty plea is a relief to all involved and has prevented the victims from having to relive the crime," he said.
Detective Sergeant Nelson said that, contrary to some media reports, Mr Tipene was already in police custody assisting the enquiry when police received a call from his mother identifying the knife and a cloth located near the scene of the attack.
During the enquiry the victims received offers of support and assistance from businesses, the tourism industry and members of the public, which were all appreciated and greatly received," he said.
He also released a media statement on behalf of the victims (see below).
Media statement from the victims
We would like to thank the community of New Zealand for their help and offers. It is impossible for us to thank everyone personally, but we were overwhelmed with all the support we received. It helped us to continue our trip in New Zealand and it showed how many nice people there are in this beautiful country. We hope that the good memories about New Zealand will overrule the bad ones one day.
The assistance provided from Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Victim Support has been overwhelming and again greatly appreciated.