Victims advocate Ruth Money slams NZ's justice system as 'utterly dysfunctional', says it privileges offenders notorious sex offenders sentenced

A victims advocate says the home detention sentencing of two notorious sex offenders was a sad day for victims in New Zealand and is calling for a complete overhaul of the country's "utterly dysfunctional" justice system.

It comes after a pair, now both 27 years old, were granted permanent name suppression despite pleading guilty last year to charges of sexual conduct with a young person.

It relates to historic offending involving drunk, underage girls when the pair were 16 and 17 - their victims were just 14. 

Victims advocate Ruth Money told AM on Wednesday the sentencing sets a worrying precedent. 

She told co-host Laura Tupou the sentencing came down to the pair having well-funded legal representation. 

"Some offenders wouldn't have got such a capable and expensive lawyer and that's different outcomes for different people in our justice system, something we talk about often that needs to change," she said. 

"They were young at the time of the offending, not as young as the 14-year-olds that were sexually violated but, yes, they were 16 and 17 years old and you are sentenced around the context of the crime that happened at the time. So while they are 27 now, they were 17-16 at the time, so the judge kind of had his hands tied in terms of what he could and couldn't do." 

Money told AM the victims are outraged by the sentencing and she was disappointed the judge granted permanent name suppression to the offenders. 

"It really hurts my heart to sit here and say you can see why survivors don't want to put themselves through a system like this. The system is utterly dysfunctional, it completely privileges the offender," she said. 

"We listen to what the offender sees and what is claimed on their behalf, the survivor only gets a small voice at the time of sentencing. The system is completely dysfunctional. 

"Sexual abuse is an epidemic in New Zealand and it's about time we change the system. You can see that judge, he's at pains with it."

A victim impact statement read to the court on behalf of one of the young women, now 24, said: "It is impossible to put into words the depraved offending."

She said she first encountered the men when she was 14 years of age and has suffered "flashbacks, panic attacks and PTSD for close to a decade".

"It makes my family and I both sad and angry that I have gone through this and the offenders have lived their normal lives."

Money described the offending as "depraved, predatory" and "abhorrent" and believes communities are safer when offenders are named.

She believes it's time for New Zealand's justice system to be overhauled, especially when it comes to sexual offending so it's not so focused on the offenders while also giving victims a bigger voice.  

"This is like a revolving door of 30 years ago. When we look at sexual crimes in New Zealand, we should have an inquisitorial system," she said. 

"We shouldn't be in a jury in front of our peers. There shouldn't be legal games around, he said, she said, spinning who's got the most expensive and well-versed lawyers.

"There are different outcomes for different people throughout the motu and, yes, the system needs an absolute overhaul, particularly when youth intersects with sexual offending. The whole thing needs to be chucked out and started again."

Where to find help and support: 

If you have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment or assault and would like to speak to someone, you could call the HELP support service.

Watch the full interview with Ruth Money in the video above.