Wed, Apr 17, 2024 7:20 PM

Former Blenheim sports coach Gregory Pask jailed for 15 years and nine months for sex offending


Tracy Neal


WARNING: This story details disturbing sexual abuse against children and may be upsetting.

The Marlborough gymnastics coach who committed more than 250 offences against young athletes he coached, and took away to competitions, has been sent to prison for 15 years and nine months.

The once trusted member of the Blenheim community and “grandfather figure” Gregory Pask, stood impassively, leaning on the dock as he was sentenced in the Blenheim District Court today on charges that spanned a decade, and were described by Judge Garry Barkle as involving a “complex level of manipulative and secretive behaviour”.

He will remain in prison for a minimum of 10 years on charges he had earlier admitted including 20 for unlawful sexual connection with a female under 12, a further 20 charges of performing an indecent act on a girl under 12, 17 charges of knowingly making an objectionable publication and three charges of knowingly possessing an objectionable publication.

Almost all were representative charges, meaning multiple offences of the same type occurred within a single charge.

Tears were shed as victims and supporters hugged during the reading of the explicit summary of facts, which spanned the years Pask had offended against multiple victims, many unknown.

Judge Barkle closed the court for the reading of the Victim Impact Statements, the contents of which were suppressed, but delivered by bereft victims and parents of victims, some of whom stared at Pask with pure hatred, repulsion and disgust.

At one point, a victim’s description of Pask raised a laugh among supporters, who were then plunged back into despair by the next victim impact statement.

Crown prosecutor Jackson Webber said the harrowing statements brought home the devastation caused by the offending he said was “utterly selfish”.

“So much damage has been caused to so many people by one man for his own perverse sexual gratification.”

Crown prosecutor Jackson Webber in the Blenheim District Court. Photo / Tracy Neal
Crown prosecutor Jackson Webber in the Blenheim District Court. Photo / Tracy Neal

Webber said predatory sexual behaviour was present to a high degree, against victims who were “incredibly vulnerable”.

“The harm has been massive and will echo for years, decades and in some cases, probably a lifetime.”

Defence lawyer Marcus Zintl acknowledged the damage done to the victims through the “grave breach of trust”.

He said it had been a “significant fall from grace” for Pask who was not only disgusted in himself but now had to live with what he’d done for the rest of his life.

The level of harm was “incalculable” and “utterly destructive”, and the victims were now living lives no one deserved, Judge Barkle said.

Club shocked

The Blenheim Gymnastics Club said in a statement after sentencing that it remained “shocked and appalled” by the offending committed by a person who occupied a position of trust in the Marlborough community.

Spokesman Tony Quirk said the club thanked the police for their work to convict Pask and secure a sentence that ensures he no longer posed a threat to society.

“We recently met with the Police and Oranga Tamariki, where we learned details of the offending that has taken place and had the opportunity to ask questions about what lessons can be learned to protect our club and community from sexual offenders who prey on children.

“We will now work with Gymnastics New Zealand and its child safeguarding experts to consider how this advice can be incorporated into the club’s child safeguarding policies and practices to ensure this type of offending never happens again,” Quirk said.

He said the club wanted to reassure members that it was a safe place and that it would continue to serve the community by providing positive and safe gymnastics experiences.

The Charges

The charges against Pask arose from 256 offences between 2014 and 2023, against victims identified by police, aged between 5 and 11 years.

Police found that Pask committed a further 46 offences against unknown victims over eight years, leading to a further eight charges, four of which were representative.

One victim was described in the summary of facts as being sufficiently afraid of Pask that she placed a sign on her bedroom door saying “no adult boys” were allowed in her room. Pask ignored the sign and told her it “didn’t apply” to him.

The offending against the identified victims included 60 sexual violations, 84 indecent acts and on 109 occasions he made objectionable publications involving multiple sexualised videos and photographs of the victims.

Police said the true number of offences was much higher, as Pask was charged according to the offence type that arose from what was found arranged in computer folders, involving multiple violations and multiple victims.

The charges of possession of an objectionable publication related to images Pask appeared to have downloaded from the internet, dating back to 2001. The indecent material, showing females aged from toddlers to around 10 years, was discovered in multiple storage devices in Pask’s bedroom when police searched his house in September last year.

Judge Barkle said the thousands of images, videos and data would be enough to fill 20-30 full-length movies.

Pask told police that he “got enjoyment from his actions” but didn’t know why he did it.

Police have been unable to identify all the victims. They were left to piece together what had occurred through images and videos that identified the victims only as young children.

Police found that Pask committed 46 offences against unknown victims over eight years. His known contact offending began in 2014 and continued up until his arrest last year.

He pleaded guilty to an initial set of charges last December, and in March this year, he confessed to more.

A trusted member of the community

The 62-year-old Blenheim man has for the past 25 years been a coach at the Blenheim Gymnastics Club, coaching children aged from 7 to 11 years old.

The position meant he was in contact with about 180 children a week, mostly young girls. He would also take gymnasts to competitions outside Marlborough, and stay in accommodation with the children, without their parents.

He had been a trusted member of the Blenheim community to the extent that several families allowed their daughters to stay at his house at weekends and on holidays.

In 2016, Pask was named among 15 Marlborough people in the Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year awards for his work as a volunteer coach and support for the club’s recreational programme and expansion.

The updated summary of facts, which is a combined account of his two plea appearances, says Pask’s first victim viewed Pask as a “grandfather figure”. She attended the gym club where he coached and had stayed at his house on a fortnightly basis from when she was aged 6, up to 10 years old. She also travelled with Pask on one sports trip.

The summary of facts reveals a litany of disturbing sexual violations, mostly carried out as the child slept, and which were filmed and photographed by Pask.

The Blenheim Gymnastics Club where "grandfather figure" Gregory Pask coached hundreds of young athletes. Photo / Tracy Neal
The Blenheim Gymnastics Club where "grandfather figure" Gregory Pask coached hundreds of young athletes. Photo / Tracy Neal

In total, he committed 156 offences against the first victim, made up of 42 sexual violations, 51 indecent acts and made 63 objectionable publications over six years from late 2019.

It began then with the victim being violated as she slept during an overnight stay at Pask’s house. He took multiple images of her, and of himself violating her.

The offending became prolonged and at times continued over several hours of the night.

From January 2017 and June 2023, Pask made 56 different recordings including photos and videos of him offending against the victim, many of which were recorded as she slept.

The victim’s mother told the police she had entrusted Pask with the care of her child but on “many occasions” her daughter returned home with physical signs she had been sexually violated.

Pask’s second victim also saw Pask as a “grandfather figure”. She stayed at his house fortnightly from when she was aged 6 until 10 and also travelled away to sports events.

Over two years Pask committed 38 offences against her, comprising six sexual violations, 12 indecent acts and the making of 20 objectionable publications.

The third victim would occasionally visit him with a parent when visiting Blenheim. In turn, Pask would sometimes stay at their house during trips away with the gymnastics club. He told police of the offending against this victim during a police interview in September last year.

Between July 2016 and May 2019, the victim stayed with Pask during holidays with a parent, who left the victim in Pask’s care during evening outings.

On one occasion over two consecutive nights, Pask violated her as she slept.

The offending continued on multiple occasions between 2016 and 2022, leading to a total of 11 offences against her for which he was charged, including five of sexual violation, two indecent acts, and making four objectionable publications.

Pask’s fourth victim was a friend of the first victim. In March 2019 he was placed in charge of the two girls while the first victim’s mother was at work. He sexually violated the fourth victim, who was aged 9 at the time.

He violated her again on a car trip south from Blenheim, as she fell asleep beside him while travelling in the front passenger seat.

The fifth victim, who was aged 8 at the time, was at a gymnastics tournament in August 2017 when Pask put his finger in her mouth as she slept.

Pask claimed to have “a great deal of affection” for the children and families he offended against.

Judge Barkle the effects of Pask’s “hideous conduct” would be felt for years to come.

Pask was sentenced to 15 years and nine months on the lead charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and six years on the remaining charges, to be served concurrently.

The police still want to hear from others who might have been a victim of this offending. Contact police on 105 or go to your local police station and reference file number: 230903/8087

Where to get help:
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email
• For more info or to web chat visit
Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it's not your fault.

Tracy Neal is a Nelson-based Open Justice reporter at NZME. She was previously RNZ’s regional reporter in Nelson-Marlborough and has covered general news, including court and local government for the Nelson Mail.

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