16 August, 2014

Self-defence in the News - No. 67

Woman fights off attackers


"Victim fought off attackers"

 By Hamish McNeilly 

16 Aug 2014

Joseph Lepper hides from the camera in the High Court at Dunedin while pleading guilty to a sex-related attempted abduction. Photo by ODT. 

A student who fought off two abductors on a mission to rape has made her parents ''insanely proud''.

The victim was supported by her family when her two attackers appeared in the High Court at Dunedin yesterday.

Joseph Lepper (37), of Motueka, pleaded guilty to a charge of detaining a woman without her consent with intent to have sexual intercourse with her.

Yesterday, co-accused Zane Alexander McVeigh (18), of Kaiapoi, was sentenced to two years and eight months' imprisonment on the same charge.

On the night of October 19, the pair were in Lepper's van cruising the warehouse precinct when Lepper spotted the victim walking in dimly lit Vogel St about 9.30pm.

''I'm going to do that bitch,'' he told McVeigh.

The victim, who cannot be named, fought off the pair as they tried to bundle her into the van, which was angle-parked in front of the 22-year-old.

In her victim impact statement, the victim said she ''had an inkling'' something was wrong when the van went past and stopped.

''It was a testament to her bravery that she was able to fight you off until help arrived,'' Justice Graham Lang, who had watched CCTV footage of the attack, said.

After the offenders appeared in court, the victim told the Otago Daily Times she was pleased her attackers were off the street and they did not harm anyone else.

''It is the best outcome from a worst-case scenario.''

The victim admitted she ''did well'' to fight off the two men long enough until others came to her aid.

Her parents, who live in Christchurch, said they were ''insanely proud'' of her actions.

''And I haven't seen how kick-ass my daughter was in the [CCTV] video,'' her mother said.

''A month previous [to the incident], she was at home chopping wood and literally couldn't even physically lift up an axe.''

Earlier, the court had heard how the attack had impacted on her last year of study.

She failed an exam and struggled to return to Dunedin to visit her sister, who was studying.

She was determined to move on with her life, and had a final message to share.

''Hopefully, we can teach men in society that they shouldn't be doing this kind of thing, as it is not acceptable ... and they won't get away with it.''

Her father said the attack was not a reflection on the city, and noted both men were visitors to the city.

''I don't think it is a sad indictment on Dunedin as such - it is sad there are people like that around.''

The victim praised the ''very good'' work of Dunedin police.

Her mother said she hoped McVeigh - whose offer of restorative justice with her daughter was declined - would learn from the incident.

''For a young man, let's hope he can turn his life around.''

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