Bennie Lee Cannon
From the Dominion Post 15th September 2006
A sexual predator who robbed children of their innocence over a long period of time was jailed today for nine and a half years. Bennie Lee Cannon, a 60-year-old storeman from Featherston, in the Wairarapa, was sentenced in Wellington District Court on 14 charges of sexual assault relating to four young girls between 1991 and 2005. The charges included one of rape, five of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, and eight of doing indecent acts. The girls involved were as young as seven-years-old. The court was told the offending which took place at Cannon's home and workplace escalated over time from indecent touching to digital penetration, simulated sex and rape and Judge Ian Mill said the serious offences were committed against particularly vulnerable members of our society, who were "society's greatest asset".
He said Cannon robbed them of their innocence. "You preyed on innocent children over a long period of time." The children were hurt, confused, afraid and emotionally devastated by what he did to them. They knew the offending would happen again but felt powerless to prevent it. Their families also suffered from guilt and felt betrayed and preyed upon. Judge Mill said Cannon seemed sorry for himself but not sorry for what he had done. "I can see no obvious true remorse on your part for what you've done to these girls." Cannon was an ongoing risk to the community, he said. It concerned him greatly that Cannon was convicted in 1997 of indecency on a girl aged under 12, but it was now clear that at the time he had already committed other offences and continued to offend unabated for another 7 or 8 years.
Other aggravating features were the number of victims involved, the number of offences, the period of time, premeditation and that Cannon used violence and force on the girls. There was also a serious breach of trust of children who were entitled to rely on him for protection. Cannon had pleaded guilty to all charges. His lawyer Christopher Stevenson said he was a "broken man" who at age 60 "has little left to look forward to". He had transferred all his possessions to his wife, and planned to return to the United States - his country of birth - when he finished his jail term. Judge Mill sentenced him to nine and a half years for the rape, eight years for each of the charges of unlawful sexual connection and five years for each indecent assault - to be served concurrently.
Date of Birth
Rape, unlawful sexual connection and committing indecent acts on four young girls as young as seven between 1991 and 2005
Sentenced to 9 years 6 months in September 2006
Eligible for parole November 2009
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