Faine Kahia Will do it again
Discharge without conviction for sports star ‘important for Māoridom’ – lawyer
An aspiring Formula One racer has escaped a conviction for a sex crime after a judge ruled it would be “the end of your career in motorsport”.
Faine Kahia, 24, received a discharge without conviction at Rotorua District Court on Wednesday after being found guilty of male assaults female and one representative charge of unlawful sexual connection with a young person under 16.
Kahia was found guilty of the two charges in the wake of a trial in 2018, where he was also found not guilty of allegations he raped the same victim. The offences and alleged offences dated back to 2016.
Kahia’s lawyer Ron Mansfield noted at the time of the sexual offending he was 17 and his victim was 15-years-and-two-months of age.
He also repeatedly stressed the consequences of a conviction on Kahia’s motor sport aspirations.
“The reality comes from funding and brands, and they will not look past a conviction of unlawful sexual connection,” he said.
“Without a conviction he can go forward and achieve at the top level. It’s important for him. . . it’s important for Māoridom.”
Judge Tony Snell said it was “a bold statement to say it’s important for the whole of Māoridom,” but Mansfield argued it was important for young Māori men to see that with hard work and dedication, you “can make it on the international stage”.
Kahia’s victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also read a victim impact statement to the court, describing how she “fell victim to his manipulation”.
“Within the first couple of weeks of our relationship Faine informed me he’d had sex before and was ready when I was.”
She said he then began asking for sex two times a week.
“It wasn’t long before it turned into frustration and anger, he told me he wasn’t going to wait forever.”
She said her personality changed from a bubbly, outgoing person to someone “always worrying about the next thing I’d do to set him off.
“I spent a lot of time apologising for things. If he lost a motor sport race it was my fault. . . it was always my fault.”
She also said she had spent a lot of time blaming herself for being “young, dumb and stupid”.
“Those thoughts were so detrimental to my mental health.”
She also described the stress of having to give evidence at trial.
“A frightening experience. I had to explain intimate and horrible details to a room full of strangers. . . being made out to be a liar, an attention seeker and mentally ill.
“Faine Kahia’s actions have caused a huge amount of pain and suffering over the last six years. . . anxiety, depressive thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder. For so long I was afraid of Faine but I want to emphasise I have come out of this so much stronger. I am no longer afraid of him.”
She also referred to his sporting aspirations being raised at trial.
“You cannot get away with hurting women because you are an aspiring motor racer, the cover up of ‘she’s out to ruin my career’ won’t last much longer.”
Snell praised the victim’s courage in reading her victim impact statement, but said he believed she was also referring to charges Kahia had been found not guilty of, and that he had to be mindful of that in sentencing.
He said there was a minimal age gap between the pair at the time of the offending of 22 months, their relationship was consensual and that the assault charge, for him grabbing her arm and trying to drag her away, was more modest when compared to other offending under the charge category.
He also said that while “high profile sports people are still subject to the same law as every other person in the country”, he accepted Mansfield’s argument that “the type of organisations you want to work for and drive for won’t look behind this conviction”.
“The sponsors would not want to be connected with a driver who has sexual offending or a hint of that surrounding them.
“Both in New Zealand and internationally, convictions will end your career in motor sport,” Snell said.
“One of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in a long time. . . in the end what I am going to do is grant the discharge without conviction by the finest margins.”
Snell imposed a condition that Kahia undertake counselling “about boundaries”.
“It is imperative he gets some assistance.”