Church leader jailed for sex offences against boys

New Zealand Herald/August 4, 2006

A Kapiti church leader was sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison today for engaging in sexual conduct with four boys he befriended through a church youth group in the late 1990s.

Robin James Hurd, 32, was an informal leader of a church youth group when he committed the crimes involving four boys between 1995 and 2000.

He started by molesting a 10-year-old boy in his sleep and over the next four years sexually abused three other boys, beginning when they were as young as 12.

The crimes took place in Hurd's home, in the boys' homes and while on holiday.

Hurd pleaded guilty to seven charges, including three counts of unlawful sexual connection and two counts of indecent assault with boys.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault of a boy under 12 and one count of attempted unlawful sex with a boy under the age of 16.

Wellington District Court Judge Michael Behrens gave credit to Hurd for confessing to the crimes and telling police about two victims they knew nothing about.

He also acknowledged Hurd's efforts to reform his life and to seek counselling.

Judge Behrens believed Hurd was unlikely to offend again.

Crown prosecutor Mark Anderson had asked for a sentence of up to 12 years, calling Hurd's actions towards the boys who looked up to him and their families "a gross breach of trust".

He argued Hurd had groomed some of his victims for sex over extended periods and that his offending was depraved.

Defence lawyer Greg King had urged the judge to consider Hurd's early guilty pleas and his efforts to change his behaviour and stop offending.

"We are dealing with a person who has turned his life around," King said.

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