Sun, Jan 28, 2024 7:05 PM
Warning: This article discusses sexual abuse and may be upsetting.
"I began cutting myself so the pain could be felt in my flesh and not my soul," one of Jordan Newton’s victims said as he was sentenced to prison for rape and a series of sex offences that began five years ago.
The young man was described as being so damaged by the sexual abuse meted out to him as a child it had left him barely able to understand the severe, and probably lifelong damage done to his victims, including the teenager he raped so severely she needed hospital treatment.
Others he sexually harmed, including one as young as 12 and a young man who was a former friend, revealed how they’d been left with terrible and permanent emotional scars.
Newton, 22, was sentenced in the Blenheim District Court on Friday to seven years and four months in prison on the lead charge of rape, plus his offending against four other victims that began in Nelson when he was 17 and escalated once he was in Blenheim.
A statement read in court on behalf of one of the victims described how she was so ashamed of what Newton had done to her body that she couldn’t speak of it until now.
She became a recluse, and extremely alone through self-disgust. She began cutting herself to remove the pain from her soul to her body.
“There was no safe place for me to be,” she said of the panic triggered by the memory, and seeing anyone who looked like Newton.
“I was stripped of my dignity, self-worth and trust.
“I have no words of hope for you,” she said.
The charge of indecently assaulting a female aged 12-16 happened when he was working at an after-school programme.
Other victims he met through mutual friends, via social media and one was a friend.
At times Newton appeared to struggle to contain a smirk, with his fist jammed over his mouth, as the graphic summary of facts was read out in court, opposite his victims and their families whose rage was evident as he walked into the dock.
Newton later shed tears as Judge Garry Barkle explained the reasons he was going to prison.
He pleaded guilty last year to a charge of rape, plus other charges of indecently assaulting a female aged 12-16, indecent assault on a young person, sexual connection with a young person under 16, indecent assault on a man over 16, and a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Crown prosecutor Jeremy Cameron said the atrocity of Newton’s offending behaviour was rendered more sinister by how he gained unfettered access to the rape victim in particular and how he had placed his own sexual gratification above anything else.
Defence lawyer Tony Bamford said it had been a “major battle” for Newton learning to accept and appreciate the abhorrence of what he had done. He said Newton had suffered sexual abuse as a child and had developed social limitations that left him unable to associate with peers, which was possibly why he gravitated towards young people.
“Rehabilitation for this young man is essential. A lot of work is needed before he’s able to be released back into the community,” Bamford said.
The first victim, who had just turned 12, met Newton through mutual friends and began communicating with him via social media in September 2020. One weekend she was staying at her friend’s house in Blenheim, when they began talking on Snapchat to various people, including Newton. He then messaged the victim with a lewd suggestion, which led her to think he was joking because of her age. He was warned by a person at the house she was only 12 and to leave her alone but at about 4.30am Newton arrived at the address and managed to lure her outside where he began to kiss her and indecently touch her.
The victim didn’t know what to do and was assaulted again before she was able to get back inside the house.
Newton left quickly when a parent who had been at the house went outside to see what was happening.
The victim’s statement, read in court on her behalf, revealed the depth to which she had been harmed emotionally, and the impact on her family.
“What he did will never go away. My life will never be the same again,” she said.
The second victim started communicating with Newton on social media around October 2020, which led to a sexual relationship. She was 14 at the time but told Newton she was 16. When he learned later her real age the relationship ceased briefly, before starting again until a friend of the victim intervened. He later said he was worried about her age, but it was “just the temptation”.
Towards the end of 2020, he began a sexual relationship with a friend of the second victim, just after her 15th birthday.
It was late one evening between early November 2020 and Christmas 2020, when Newton was at Blenheim’s Pollard Park with the two teenage girls who had been drinking. It was here he made his third victim by committing offences that led to two charges of sexual connection with a person under 16.
A year later the same victim was at Newton’s home and had been drinking before she fell asleep in Newton’s bed, with him asleep on the couch. During the night she was woken by him having sex with her before she fell back into an unconscious state, but woke the next morning, barely unable to move because of soreness and intense abdominal pain that required medical treatment.
The charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice arose from ongoing contact with the victim despite a bail condition. Newton told her not to tell the police about what happened in the park. He made her believe if she told the truth he would “lose the rest of his life”, and that he would kill himself if he went to prison.
In January 2021 a detective spoke with the victim but she told the police nothing sexual happened because that is what Newton told her to say.
The fourth victim, a male, had been one of Newton’s friends.
On an evening in April 2022, the man and his partner were at Newton’s house, socialising, playing Xbox and smoking cannabis together. Around midnight, the man and his partner went to sleep in Newton’s bed. A couple of hours later the victim’s partner woke to find Newton performing a sexual act on her partner, who remained asleep.
While she was out of the room seeking help, Newton straddled him and twice indecently assaulted him.
The victim woke up and froze not knowing what to do. He and his partner left the address and went to the police.
Judge Barkle acknowledged the victims in court and the trauma they had suffered, including that it had led to self-harm and suicide attempts among them. Family relationships had been affected and education interrupted as each victim had struggled to come to terms with what had happened.
“Your offending may well have a life-long impact but each is determined to overcome this and I wish them well in those endeavours,” Judge Barkle said.
He also acknowledged that Newton had suffered as a child, and had been too afraid to tell anyone. It led to a distorted understanding of sexual boundaries while he also suffered from neuro-developmental conditions, learning problems and restricted emotional development.
Cameron for the Crown said the psychological report revealed “significant treatment challenges” and that he presented as an ongoing risk and the community that had to be protected.
Bamford said his interest in young people was pervasive.
“Whether he’s able to adjust is something where there’s still a question mark.”
From a starting point of 12 years in prison, with a totality adjustment that took it down to 11 years and four months, Judge Barkle gave discounts for Newton’s guilty pleas and his personal circumstances to arrive at the sentence he did.
Newton’s addition to the child sex offender register was automatic.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nzAlternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it's not your fault.