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Students guilty in broomstick case

Published: 6:20PM Wednesday April 24, 2002

Six former top students of a Hawke's Bay high school have been convicted of sexual violation after a case that has shocked their community.

After deliberating for more than 13 hours, a jury found them guilty of sexually violating another boy during a party in Taradale.

Former head boy Mark Hagen, former deputy head boy Kent Burns, former head of sport Rewi Gemmell, and friends Anthony Lloyd, Daniel Cutbill and Gabriel Williams, were all found guilty of sexual violating a fellow pupil with a broom handle.

Another former student, Andrew Castles who held the broom handle, earlier pleaded guilty and is now serving a two and a half year jail sentence.

The convicted teenagers, their families, and lawyers waited nearly two days for the jury to return its verdicts.

During the two week trial the Crown called 12 witnesses, including the complainant and Castles.

The defence called three of the accused, along with 10 character witnesses.

Detective Geoff Scott says the decision sends a message that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by society.

"The victim and his family acknowledge that this has been a harrowing time for all those involved and would like to express relief that the process has finally been concluded," Scott said.

Detective Senior Sergeant Bill Gregory says he hopes the victim's family can now get on with their lives.

Gregory says it was a unique and difficult case for the police and they sought advice from outside Hawke's Bay during the investigation.

The principal of Taradale High School says the school is still distressed and dismayed by the incident.

Mike Kilty says the incident has been tragic for the victim and his family, and the other students as well.

The victim has permanent name suppression but the 18-year old told ONE News he will never forgive his attackers, who throughout the trial referred to him as their mate.

He says it is now time to move on and eventually he wants to write a book about his life experiences.

The six teenagers will be sentenced in Napier next month.