Jailed abuser who threatened to release intimate videos has appeal dismissed

A Dunedin man who twice assaulted his partner then tried to have her drop the charges by referencing intimate videos will remain behind bars.

Ryan Karl Tapsell, 49, was jailed for two years and four months in December last year on charges of assault, assault in a family relationship and breaching a protection order, but he appealed the outcome before the High Court at Dunedin last month on the basis it was manifestly excessive.

Justice Rob Osborne quashed the appeal and ruled the protection order in favour of the victim would remain in place.

Tapsell and his then-girlfriend, who was 23 years his junior, bought a house together in 2019 but it was only months before the relationship deteriorated.

A temporary protection order was made in June 2020 and was in effect when the man’s violence began in October.

After an argument, Tapsell held the victim down on a couch and threatened her.

Just five days later, another dispute arose and the defendant ignored the woman as she lay on the bed crying.

When she followed him out of the room he pushed her to the floor, squeezed her head with his hands and banged the back of her head on the floor.

“If you scream one more time I will f****** kill you,” Tapsell said.

On October 16, 2020, he was arrested and remanded in custody before being bailed to a Tauranga address a month later.

He was ordered not to contact the victim but breached the bail condition, regularly sending his then-partner messages.

In December, he took things further, booking her flights to visit him.

The victim initially thought those trips would allow them to go to the bank together and sign remortgaging documents but his behaviour quickly became more sinister.

Tapsell tried to coerce the victim to withdraw the statement she had made to the police, mentioning several times that he possessed “intimate” videos of her.

She went to the police but was told the prosecution would continue regardless.

Undeterred, Tapsell instructed her to speak to a lawyer and even went as far as sending her a statement he had written on her behalf.

It stated she no longer wanted to go to trial, and that she was drunk and high on drugs at the time of the assault and was unable to rely on her memory.

Just before Christmas 2020, the woman told the police everything.

Counsel Deborah Henderson argued her client had deserved more credit for his guilty pleas, remorse, offer of reparation, offer to attend restorative justice, time spent on electronically monitored bail and for his upbringing which had resulted in a distorted view of how relationships worked.

Crown prosecutor Robin Bates, however, was highly critical of documents filed on Tapsell’s behalf.

A letter from a forensic psychologist had been based on casual discussions the pair had had while on a five-day holiday together, the court heard.

Bates also took aim at a cultural report that appeared to put the onus for Tapsell’s violence on his former partners.

Justice Osborne said there were no errors in the reasoning behind the sentence.

Where to go for help or more information

• Women’s Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 – 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843

• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day – 0508 744 633

• It’s Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz

• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584

• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence

• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz

• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men’s violence towards women www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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