A brother and sister who met as young adults have been sentenced for incest as they co-parent their child in Christchurch. The sister has been put on community detention that will keep her at home at night caring for her daughter – a healthy baby – and she must do a year of intensive supervision. Her older brother’s sentencing was put off at the Christchurch District Court sentencing today because his probation report had not been done.
Judge David Saunders told the brother that he must not go within 100m of flat where his sister is living unless he has prior approval of the Community Probation service. The sister has the child for five days a week, and the brother has it for the other two days. He will be sentenced on December 2, on charges of incest, wilful damage, and a breach of a community work sentence.
Judge Saunders told the sister at her sentencing that it was not the more common incest situation where an older man had taken advantage of a daughter. In this case they were siblings and there was only a small disparity in the ages. “You only came to know each other in more recent times and there was a relationship that developed of an inappropriate kind. That has resulted in you now having to take the main responsibility for bringing up the child.”
The pair came from a dysfunctional family situation, and Judge Saunders urged the sister to consider the situation of the parents – her mother is in custody and her father is facing drugs charges – and think about whether she wanted something better for her child’s future.
The brother has admitted a wilful damage charge arising from a visit to the sister’s flat when there was an argument over money and a door was smashed. Judge Saunders tightened the bail condition that will keep his visits under control. He will get a report on the brother’s suitability for home or community detention, but he warned him that he now must get on with an existing sentence of community work. “If you don’t turn up and do the community work, I think you know where you will be spending Christmas.”
Defence counsel for the sister, Josh Lucas, said she was “making a pretty good fist” of bringing up the child. Crown prosecutor Courtney Martyn said community detention was seen as a sensible outcome for the sister’s case.
Judge Saunders imposed three months of community detention when the sister will have to be home under a curfew every evening and a year’s intensive supervision. “The purpose of intensive supervision is to meet the needs of the Sentencing Act around rehabilitation and to make sure you start to cement-in gains you have been making as a young mother looking after a child. You need to be disciplined in your approach to motherhood. I sincerely hope you will continue to show improvement in your parenting skills and won’t give probation any cause for concern,” said the judge.This is pointless. I don't see why the judge considers their family relevant. If he wants the child to grow up better than they did, surely having a cohesive family unit, and not having to shuttle back and forth, would be a step in the right direction. Some GSA couples come from wonderful families. Some do not. When they don't, I'm not that surprised, considering that their family's dysfunction was likely the reason they were separated anyway. In such cases people falsely blame the dysfunction because it's correlated with the separation. (I also get more and more annoyed by judges repeating the stereotype that "incest" equals fathers raping daughters. Even if you only count non-consensual cases, it's likely the opposite of the truth.)