Serial sexual offender Christopher King fails to reduce his prison sentence

THE FORMER St John paramedic who sexually assaulted patients in the back of an ambulance has failed with his bid for a reduction in his 14-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

In November last year Christopher King was found guilty on multiple counts of sexual offending against four female patients in the back of ambulances between 2010 and July 2013.

King – who had been an ambulance driver in Waipawa and Waipukurau – also pleaded guilty to a further five charges of sexual offending against girls aged 11 and 16 between 2002 and 2006. ?That particular offending happened before King started working for St John in 2009.

He resigned after being suspended in August 2013 when allegations surfaced that he was sexually assaulting patients. Throughout his trial, King maintained his innocence and told the court he had always acted professionally.

He attacked the character and credibility of all the complainants, claiming they were all liars.

The 14-and-a-half-year prison term included an eight-year non-parole period.

King appealed the sentence on the grounds it was ?manifestly excessive?

He claimed that a starting point of ten years for the offending against his two young female victims was ?excessive? in comparison to other sentences handed out for sexual offending.

He also claimed at least a year should have been taken off his sentence for his previous good character and argued the judge who heard the case was wrong to consider his behaviour as premeditated when it fell more into the category of ?opportunistic conduct?. ?

King?s offending began back in 2002 at the time he was working as a mechanic in Napier. His first victim was only 11-years-old.

He would take her to work with him on Saturdays while her mother was working elsewhere and would interfere with her sexually. That behaviour continued right up until 2006 when his victim was 15 years old.

King?s second victim was 16-years-old and was sexually violated between June and July 2005 while she was staying with King in Napier.

Four years later King secured employment with the St John Ambulance Service as a paramedic. In January 2010 he was one of three ambulance officers called to attend an incident involving a woman suffering from ?conversion disorder? ? an illness where symptoms include numbness down one side of the body and slurred speech.

While he was in the rear of the ambulance, he administered a mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen to partially sedate the patient and then told her it was necessary to examine her abdomen.

It was then that he sexually violated the patient.

Later in the trip to Hastings Hospital he sexually assaulted the woman again.

In March 2012 King sexually violated another patient, again in the back of the ambulance while she was being driven to hospital ?? this time his victim was a 21-year-old suffering from a severe bowel disorder, which was causing abdominal obstructions.

King?s third victim was a 56-year-old woman who had hurt her back after a fall in the shower.

In July 2013 he attended a callout for a 15-year-old girl who had suffered minor injuries. En route to taking her to a doctor, he parked the ambulance in a lay-by, administered nitrous oxide and oxygen and sexually assaulted her. He then used his cellphone to take a video image of her pubic and genital area by placing the phone between her legs.

In rejecting King?s appeal against the 14-and-a-half-year sentence, the Court of Appeal found there were no grounds in which to challenge the original High Court decision.

Important factors in determining the sentence were the breaches of trust towards children and patients, their vulnerability and the planning, premeditation and multiplicity of his offending.

The Court of Appeal rejected the argument that King?s offending was ?opportunistic?.

With his victims, there was the added indignity of indecent photographs and the fact with one of his victims her teenage years had been destroyed, the court found.

There was also the issue of the damage done to St John’s reputation by the serial breaches of trust by one of its officers who sexually molested vulnerable female patients in his care.

cookStephen Cook is a multi award winning journalist and former news editor and assistant editor of the Herald on Sunday.