The Auckland park rapist’s identity was revealed as Peter Kosetatino five months after his conviction

WARNING: This article addresses the topic of rape and may be disturbing to some readers.

A 17-year-old mugger who dragged a stranger into the bushes of Auckland’s popular Albert Park and raped her – threatening her at knifepoint while a 15-year-old associate held her partner – can now be named, five months after he was killed started his service A prison sentence.

Name suppression for Peter Kosetatino, whose parole eligibility is just a few weeks away, was finally lifted today.

Kosetatino was sentenced to two years, two months and a week in prison by Judge Claire Ryan in Auckland District Court in December for “despicable and disgusting” behavior. During this lengthy hearing, the judge also assumed that her decision would likely be appealed – if not by the defense for being too heavy-handed, then by the Crown for being too flippant. She was right on both counts.

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The defense initially indicated its intention to appeal both Judge Ryan’s decision to deny the teen’s permanent name suppression and her denial of a house arrest sentence. But both offers were later dropped. Instead, both parties appeared in the High Court in Auckland today as lawyers for the Attorney General tried to persuade Judge Peter Andrew that the District Court’s ruling was “manifestly inadequate”.

Sexual assault by rape carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while aggravated robbery is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The teenager had already robbed two men in the same Auckland Central Park five days earlier, in November 2022, when he and the 15-year-old accomplice confronted the pair as they strolled through the area around 1am. The victims, both students, were heading home after spending the evening celebrating the woman’s 21st birthday.

“The young people swung the knives at the complainants and threatened them, telling them not to move or they would be stabbed and telling them to lie on the ground,” court documents state.

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The defendant groped the woman while looking for items to steal, then “immediately grabbed the victim by the arm and led her to a nearby bush, executing her movements at knifepoint.” He again threatened to stab her if she didn’t comply with the instruction, according to the agreed statement of facts in the case.

“She was very alone in a bush in the dark and there was no one there to help her,” the District Court judge noted in December as she recounted the “appalling offence.” “It was terrifying for her.”

Peter Kosetatino was 17 when he robbed a young couple at knifepoint in Auckland Central's popular Albert Park and then raped the 21-year-old female victim in the bushes.  He was sentenced to prison in December 2023, but his image could not be used for name suppression until after his appeal process was over.  Photo / Michael Craig
Peter Kosetatino was 17 when he robbed a young couple at knifepoint in Auckland Central’s popular Albert Park and then raped the 21-year-old female victim in the bushes. He was sentenced to prison in December 2023, but his image could not be used for name suppression until after his appeal process was over. Photo / Michael Craig

When the traumatized rape victim returned from the bushes with the defendant a few minutes later, she tried to negotiate a bank transfer in return for the safe release of her and her boyfriend. When her partner tried to talk to her, the defendant intervened and put his knife to the young man’s throat.

“Shut up or I’ll kill you,” he warned.

Both teens eventually fled but were arrested a few hours later. Kosetatino ultimately pleaded guilty to both counts.

“This destroyed me,” the rape victim said when confronting Kosetatino in court last year. “The worst thing for me are the nightmares. I wake up every night covered in sweat.”

She said a two-year prison sentence was too easy and described such an outcome as a reason some rape victims do not trust the system enough to report such crimes.

“I have suffered more pain than you can imagine,” she said, urging the judge to deny Kosetatino’s request for house arrest and name suppression so other women could be safe. “Please don’t let this continue. Please stop this here.”

During today’s hearing, Crown prosecutor Zoe Hamill pointed out that the district court erred by “essentially adding up” individual discounts for Kosetatino rather than considering them as a whole. The overall discount should have been reduced to take into account overlapping factors relating to youth, prospects for rehabilitation and previous good character, she argued.

Looking at principles such as accountability, denunciation, deterrence, “very serious” harm to the victim and protection of the community, the judge should have set a final sentence of at least three years and 11 months, Hamill said.

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“The discount that the Crown believed was given was simply too high,” she said.

Judge Ryan initially assumed a sentence of nine years in prison for the rape, before increasing the sentence to 11 years and one month to account for the robberies, to which Kosetatino also pleaded guilty. She then granted a 77 percent discount – the highest she had ever considered, she noted – for a range of discounts, including his guilty pleas, his youth, the fact that he had no criminal record and his “exemplary” rehabilitation efforts in recent months leading up to the hearing.

Defense attorney Sacha Norrie demanded price discounts totaling 110 percent, but ultimately requested house arrest, the district judge noted.

Albert Park Band Rotunda.  Photo / Carolyn Robertson
Albert Park Band Rotunda. Photo / Carolyn Robertson

Speaking in the Supreme Court today, Norrie said she now believes Judge Ryan’s ruling was “appropriate, principled and within reason”. She provided the court with a new psychological report in which she found that her client had “exceptionally low” English proficiency and that he scored in the “low to average” range when communicating in Samoan.

The discovery goes some way to explaining why her client appeared to give varying accounts of his past and demonstrates what previous reports described as a lack of insight into his crimes, Norrie said. Had the report been available before sentencing, the district court judge may have had a lower starting point, she argued.

The defense also argued that the district court judge adopted a “significantly different attitude and approach” between Kosetatino’s sentencing hearing and his actual sentencing. When announcing the sentence, the judge indicated that house arrest was a real possibility, Norrie claimed.

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She argued both in district court last year and today in the Supreme Court that home detention would provide the best protection for society because it would support the teenager’s ongoing rehabilitation efforts. Lifting name suppression today, she added, would have “profound consequences” for the teenager and would have a punitive aspect.

“He was scared off,” she said.

Kosetatino did not appear in court for today’s hearing.

Judge Andrew decided to reserve his decision. However, all parties agreed that the timetable for deciding the appeal may be tight.

Eligibility to apply for parole typically occurs when a third of the sentence has been served – in this case, about eight months. Considering the time Kosetatino was in custody before his sentencing, it is likely he will be able to apply for parole in early June unless Judge Andrew agrees to the Attorney General’s request to increase the sentence.

Craig Captain is an Auckland-based journalist covering courts and justice. He joined the Herald in 2021 and has covered courts since 2002 in three newsrooms in the United States and New Zealand.

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