Whangārei lion park director Dale Vallance guilty of indecent assault

Dale Vallance, director at Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary, indecently assaulted five women in offending described as “crude”. Photo / Big Cats

A well-known tourist park director on trial for indecently assaulting five women has been found guilty on 10 out of 12 charges and can now be named.

Dale Vallance, director of Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary in Whangārei, claimed under oath he was the unlucky victim of lies and that he never indecently assaulted the women.

But the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts today on 10 counts of indecent assault on the five victims for offending that involved touching women inappropriately and without consent.

Through the course of the trial before Judge Gene Tomlinson in the Whangārei District Court, five complainants gave evidence alongside witnesses who saw Vallance, 64, touch the women.


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Vallance’s wife, Janette Vallance, gave evidence for the defence in support of her husband.

The offences ranged from touching the women’s waists, thighs, breasts and crotch and, in one incident, turning up to a woman’s place of work and assaulting her after she carried a box to his car.

Vallance gave evidence on day 10 of the trial and admitted to crude comments he made about the victim’s bodies such as calling one woman “fat a**, fat guts, plastic t*ts”.

He played down the offensive language as humour.


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But Crown prosecutor Geraldine Kelly said although Vallance was not charged with inappropriate comments, his attempts to blacken the character of the women by referring to their bodies showed his true nature.

“The defendant would have you think he’s just a guy who’s inappropriate and likes to have a laugh. What he is, is a male who targets females… and thinks he has the upper hand,” Kelly said.

“The defendant’s evidence is not based on reality. He did everything they said he did to them.”

Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary, formally known as Zion Wildlife Gardens. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary, formally known as Zion Wildlife Gardens. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Defence lawyer Sumudu Thode earlier told the jury they must rely on the evidence presented to them and put aside any sympathy for the victims or Vallance.

“Don’t convict because you don’t like him. What more can he say other than, ‘I didn’t do it… any touching was just that, an accident’,” Thode closed with.

Ultimately, the jury of 11 agreed with the Crown on 10 charges and returned guilty verdicts after a seven-hour deliberation.

Vallance was found not guilty of two charges of indecent assault in relation to an attempted kiss and touching a bottom.

Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary, formally known as Zion Wildlife Gardens, has had a string of incidents since opening in 2002 including the death in 2009 of cat handler Dalu Mncube, who was mauled to death by a tiger.

The tourist attraction recently went into voluntary receivership after the owner, Big Cats Ltd, was found to owe IRD $264,000.

Vallance’s name and that of Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary were suppressed throughout the trial to protect the park, however, because the business was now in receivership, name suppression was no longer valid, Judge Tomlinson said.


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“The offending that has been established will necessarily result in a term of imprisonment… the start point is prison, and the endpoint is prison,” Judge Tomlinson warned.

Vallance would be sentenced in July and all five victims had already indicated they were uninterested in participating in restorative justice with Vallance, who was remanded in custody.

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