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Killer of young Napier girl admits child sex violation after a decade of denial

A man sentenced to more than 16 years in jail for the killing of a young girl in Napier five days before Christmas in 2010 has finally admitted the sexual violation of her that he denied for almost a decade.

Kerry Charles Ratana, who turns 35 on Sunday, made the admission while talking to psychological services last November, according to a decision from a Parole Board hearing held in February this year.

Arrested after the death of his partner’s 5-year-old daughter Sahara Jayde Baker-Koro at a house in Riverbend Rd, Napier, on December 21, 2010, Ratana pleaded guilty the following July to a charge of manslaughter, but denied any sexual offending.

A jury at a November 2011 trial in the High Court in Napier was unable to agree on a verdict but despite the continued denial Ratana was found guilty at a second trial four months later on a charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection with a child aged under 12 years.

He was sentenced in April 2012 to 16 years and six months in jail, and a year later was unsuccessful in an appeal against conviction and sentence.

In the latest decision, the Parole Board notes his sentence end-date is June 2027, and says Ratana now accepts and acknowledges his offending and wants to get treatment.

“In terms of his admission,” the decision says, “he says that over the time he has been in prison he has just come to accept his offending. He acknowledged the damage he has caused.”

A previous psychological assessment, in early 2019, had been that Ratana was a high risk of sexual and violent reoffending if released, and a moderate risk of general reoffending.

In the circumstances, the Board says, Ratana is “untreated”, does not have a release plan and parole was declined. It will be reconsidered early next year.

He had had an “extensive” history of offending dating back six years before the killing, but nothing for violent offending other than resisting arrest.

At the time of the tragedy, Ratana had come from home-town Whanganui to live in Napier with the mother and child. The death happened while the mother was at work.

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