Eric Tai Te Karu
NZ Herald story here
Rotorua Daily Post story 16th February 2007
For four months, a Turangi family lived with the fear of knowing their 15-year-old son was being watched. A local man, Eric Tai Te Karu, had developed an infatuation with the teenager - going to the boy's house to watch him undress. Unbeknown to the family, Te Karu also broke into their home on four occasions, going through their property and stealing surveillance cameras used to try to catch him. Yesterday that family, who may not be named, turned the tables on Te Karu and were watching him as he was sentenced to eight months in prison, with leave to apply for home detention.
The 27-year-old former radio announcer was yesterday sentenced in the Taupo District Court on four charges of burglary. He was also ordered to pay $165 in reparation. On more than 20 other charges, including 19 of peeping and peering and two of unlawfully being on a property, he was convicted and discharged. The family told the Daily Post they wouldn't wish what they went through on anyone. The boy's mother says they are still living with the fear - the nightly ordeal of getting up every few hours to check windows, locks and curtains, even though Te Karu is in jail.
The family only found out about three of the four burglary charges when Te Karu admitted them to the police. They also feel their privacy in their own home has been violated and believe they may have to move house for a fresh start. The boy's mother said that the first time her son woke her saying someone was tapping on his window, she thought he must have been dreaming. It wasn't until she saw the man running away more than a month later that she realised something was wrong. The mother started keeping records of when the man turned up, but became even more concerned when she found a note with "distinct sexual overtones" outside her son's room.
For the months between the offending starting, in September, and Te Karu being caught by police in December, the family kept nightly vigils to try and catch him stalking them. "To me, he was becoming dangerous. It was going up in stages and getting more dangerous. First it was the hoodie, then the hoodie and bandana, then the note, and then he carried a pole. I thought, 'what comes next for my son? Does he have to get hurt?"' She said the family became suspicious of everyone and, in a small town like Turangi, where most people knew each other, that took its toll.
"I felt like it affected me more than my son, even though I wasn't the target. I made sure I checked the windows were locked four or five times a night. I was scared to look through the window or turn off the lights. " Judge Phillip Cooper said he believed the circumstances showed Te Karu was on his way to committing a more serious offence. Te Karu would have counselling for alcohol and personal issues, he said. Te Karu's lawyer, Katherine Ewen, said Te Karu was making arrangements with his church to move to Rotorua on his release. She said he was remorseful and ashamed of his actions.
Date of Birth
Stalking of a 15 year old Turangi boy over four months from September 2006
Broke into the family's home four times
At large in Taupo
Sentenced to eight months in February 2007
Released June 2007
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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