Stranger who preyed on schoolgirls for months before grabbing one sentenced

By Shannon Pitman, Open Justice reporter of NZ Herald

School Zone

Reginald Hannah has pleaded not guilty to one charge of assault on a child and one charge of offensive behaviour over a frightening incident outside a school (file image).
Photo: RNZ/ Nick Monro

A man who preyed on two Whangārei primary school girls for months before eventually dragging one down the road by the wrist from her pedestrian patrol duties in an attempt to “show her something” continues to deny his offending.

Reginald Hannah, 66, of Tikipunga, pleaded not guilty to one charge of assault on a child and one charge of offensive behaviour, over a frightening incident outside a school involving two children aged under 10 he did not know.

Judge Taryn Bayley found Hannah guilty of both charges after a judge-alone trial in June 2022 when both girls gave evidence clearly identifying the man. He was sentenced in the Whangārei District Court yesterday to 12 months of intensive supervision and three months of community detention.

About 3pm on 6 August, 2020, the two girls were on school pedestrian patrol outside Kamo Primary School when Hannah approached them, making comments that he had a girlfriend and had other girls in his car.

Hannah turned his attention to one of the girls, grabbing her by the wrist and dragging her down the street.

He insisted he “wanted to show her something” when she kicked out at him in an attempt to get away.

Hannah grabbed the child again, but this time she was successful in escaping his grip and running back to her friend, resulting in both girls becoming extremely distressed.

The following day, Hannah returned to the pedestrian crossing, where again the girls were on school patrol.

He taunted the girls by saying “I found you, I found you girls again!” and both girls told police he smelled of alcohol.

At the judge-alone trial, the girls gave evidence Hannah had been regularly turning up to the school crossing for months leading up to the assault.

Their victim impact statements described suffering long-term effects, including feeling uneasy around men and not being able to be around people they do not know.

Judge Bayley said although the incidents were brief, they were frightening.

“Both victims of primary school age were vulnerable and have suffered ongoing emotional distress … there was taunting which had gone on earlier and I can only describe the offending as ‘audacious’ given the time of day with parents and teachers nearby,” he said.

“There’s no legitimate excuse for your behaviour, it is inexplicable.”

In sentencing at the Whangārei District Court, Judge Bayley said Hannah continued to deny his offending, and a community-based sentence would be with strict conditions to reduce the risk of re-offending.

* This story originally appeared in The Northern Advocate.

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