Outrage after assault victim ordered to pay offender costs

A former Air Force servicewoman has been ordered to pay her attacker nearly $28,000, prompting outrage from the attacker's daughter and fellow victim.

The High Court admits Mariya Taylor was likely sexually assaulted by former RNZAF Sgt Robert Roper in the 1980s, including being locked in a cage, groped, ogled, and prodded with an iron bar.

But too much time has passed for her to make a compensation bid against him, or the Defence Force.

In awarding costs, Justice Rebecca Edwards says Roper successfully defended the claims against him.

"The party who fails with respect to a proceeding ...should pay costs to the party who succeeds".

Justice Edwards says there can be no dispute that Roper’s conduct towards Ms Taylor was heinous, but that costs should "not be used as a backdoor means of granting relief to a plaintiff who failed to get their claim past the front door".

"Refusing to award costs would undermine the integrity of the costs regime… Costs are not ordered as punishment against the losing party, nor as a reward for the winner."

Roper had originally been seeking more than $55,000 in costs.

The decision has sparked outrage, with his daughter and fellow victim Tracey Thompson, who says she’s lost for words.

"It’s laughable. What’s the point? This news has totally re-victimised me. He wins again," said Ms Thompson.

She's angry at the rationale given by Justice Edwards, saying none of it makes sense.

"Can you imagine what Mariya is feeling right now? It’s a kick in the guts. Where is the fairness? When does the justice system work for her? No wonder victims don’t want to come forward these days."

The Defence Force (NZDF) dropped its case against Ms Taylor, seeking legal costs, following public backlash.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put her foot down, telling Newshub the court case needed to be dropped and that Ms Taylor would not be forced to pay a single cent.

"This case is devastating. It makes for devastating reading. It wouldn't be right to pursue those costs."