Warning: This story contains distressing content relating to sexual violence.
The Wellington High Court has ordered that a man released on bail while appealing a rape conviction be returned to jail.
Wayne Rimene, 53, was found guilty and convicted on March 23, 2023, for two offences of indecent assault, four offences of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, and two offences of sexual violation by rape committed in Masterton. He was subsequently sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on June 15, 2023.
However, Rimene appealed his conviction, and on December 21, 2023, a Wellington District Court judge granted his application for bail.
Documents recently made available to the Times-Age report that the High Court intervened and appealed the bail decision under urgency on December 22, 2023.
The Crown submitted that the Judge “erred by treating the appeal the same as a pre-trial appeal and not referring to the fact the presumption of innocence no longer applies”.
Rimene was found guilty in a judge-alone trial for the eight offences committed on September 17, 2021.
He appeared before Judge Noel Sainsbury in the Wellington District Court in 2023, where the court heard that he had travelled to the woman’s home early on September 17, 2021, to pick someone up from the property.
The person he was there to see was not at the property; his victim was home alone.
He entered the home and attempted to kiss her and rub against her – which she resisted. His unwelcome advances forced the woman to retreat to her bedroom, where she sent a text to her partner asking for help.
Rimene followed her, took her phone, and sexually violated her. He then raped her twice.
The offending stopped when a family member of her partner came to the home as a result of her text.
The Judge found Rimene guilty of all eight offences before sentencing him to seven years imprisonment.
“This was a young woman, alone in her home,” the judge said.
“She was worried about what you would do and what associates of yours might do.”
The judge provided a lengthy reasons judgement where he found “beyond reasonable doubt that the victim did not consent to any of the sexual activity and that Mr Rimene did not believe she was consenting”.
At appeal, Rimene claimed the Judge “pre-determined [his] guilt, had a closed mind to defence arguments, and erred in his assessment of the evidence”.
The District Court Judge’s decision to grant bail considered the length of time he would be on bail until the appeal hearing scheduled for February 20, his extensive criminal history, and the victim’s anxiety about him being on bail given that she often visits Masterton.
The Crown expressed concerns that several Crown witnesses lived in Masterton, but bail was granted.
The High Court hearing held on January 16 was to determine whether bail should have been granted – Judge Palmer found that bail should not have been granted on the basis that Rimene had been convicted and was awaiting an appeal rather than a conviction.
“Bail applicants are usually awaiting trial. In that circumstance, they are entitled to be presumed innocent until found guilty,” he said.
“The bail address is located in Masterton, where the offending occurred, Crown witnesses live, and the victim visits.
“Granting bail is inconsistent with adequate mitigation of the risks of Mr Rimene offending while on bail, of interfering with witnesses, and with protecting the safety of the victim.”
Rimene was ordered to present himself to his nearest Police Station by 5pm January 17 to be taken back into custody.
The Times-Age understands that he is now back in jail.
Where to get help:
If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
Call 0800 044 334
Email [email protected]
For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it’s not your fault.