Warning: This article contains disturbing details about sexual violence.
An autistic tattooist who sexually assaulted clients while working with them blames autism for his predatory behaviour.
Peter John Roberts – Shaky Pete – groped and tattooed the bottoms of at least two women between January 2020 and July 2020.
The 44-year-old also touched one woman’s genitals and sexually abused the other.
Roberts, a tattooist who had moved from the UK to New Zealand, appeared at New Plymouth District Court on Friday.
The sexual assaults were the reason for his four-year and six-month prison sentence.
The court heard that he offered to tattoo a victim for free and privately, but when she arrived, he wasn’t wearing a shirt.
Before he touched the woman’s genitals, he asked about her relationship. He hugged her before she left.
The other woman was around Roberts more and said he often made “creepy, weird, sexual remarks” to her.
He asked her repeatedly for sex. She refused. Other lewd remarks were made, such as “Who’s in the mood for Bukkake?”
He offered her a free tattoo while his shop was closed, and no one else was present.
Roberts complimented the woman and grabbed her butt. He also said he “wanted to bury his head in her butt”.
The woman immediately complained. Then he began to assault her sexually.
She told Roberts to stop making jokes and laugh at them.
Other times, he also pulled down her pants, exposing the bottom of her skirt.
Roberts was found indicted for six counts of indecent violence and one of sexual abuse by unwarranted sexual connection at trial. He denies the offence.
At the trial, three witnesses from the UK who all complained to the police in 2014, 2016, and 2018 about Roberts’s similar crimes gave testimony. He was not prosecuted for their complaints.
Andrew Laurenson, the defence attorney, said that his client was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and that this disorder was related to his crimes.
Laurenson referred to a psychological report that was provided to the court. The psychologist said Roberts’ tattooing practice was a “disaster just waiting to happen”.
Laurenson explained: “You’ve got a person that doesn’t know how to read social cues, and he makes up what people think.”
“He believes and still believes that he’s doing everything right. He cannot understand any other perspective because it is foreign to his own.”
Roberts told the psychologist he didn’t mean to hurt anyone and that people would always think him strange despite all his efforts to befriend them.
“I’m no monster,” he said. “I always say the wrong things, and people get offended for some reason.”
Laurenson stated that the report concluded Roberts’ disorder would make prison difficult and requested a sentence of detention at home.
He also argued that Roberts deserved credit for the excellent character he had shown in the past, but the Crown refused to accept this due to the severity of the offence.
Rebekah Hicklin, the prosecutor for the state, argued that there are no mitigating conditions and asked for a four- to five-year sentence.
She claimed that Roberts had taken advantage of his victims because they were vulnerable, had trusted him, and one woman had been groomed.
Hicklin stated that the mental health report found ASD to contribute to Roberts’ offending but concluded it had only a minimal effect on Roberts’ culpability.
Judge Gregory Hikaka started with a sentence of five years imprisonment.
He claimed that a report on Roberts’s presentence found that he lacked empathy, blamed his victims, and showed little remorse.
He was said to be hard to rehabilitate.
The judge said that due to the period of the sexual assaults, he didn’t have the right to give him credit for his excellent character.
He accepted the ASD diagnosis, explained the offence and granted a 10% discount.
In sentencing him, Judge Hikaka stated that Roberts displayed manipulative behaviours and was predatory. His victims had been significantly affected by his actions.
The judge said he used his tattooist position to pursue his “determined pursuit” sexual activity.
Find help here:
If you feel you or another person is in danger in an emergency, dial 111. If you need to talk about sexual assault or abuse, call Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7: • Call 0800 044 334 • Text 4334 • Email [email protected] • For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz Contact your local police station. Click here for a list. It’s not your fault if sexual assault has occurred.
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