Bankrupt builder Jaden Melgren jailed for rape of sleeping woman

The intoxicated victim woke up to Jaden Arian Melgren having sex with her. Photo / 123rf

WARNING: This story deals with sexual offending and may be distressing.

A former Queenstown builder who went bankrupt owing almost $1 million and was dubbed “completely reckless”, has been jailed for rape.

Jaden Arian Melgren appeared in the Hamilton District Court today where he was sentenced to prison for six years and four months by Judge Jonathan Down.

Melgren, 46, was found guilty of the charge – stemming from an incident in 2013 – following a jury trial in August.

Melgren is also known for leaving several contractors tens of thousands of dollars in debt after his building company True Line Builders in Queenstown went into liquidation in 2017.

He also had building companies in Auckland and Whitianga.

He was adjudicated bankrupt a year later, when a new labor-only building company, Old School Carpentry, was set up by his now ex-wife Jacqueline Melgen in Auckland in 2018.

Old School Carpentry went under in less than a year owing $180,000, the majority of which was owed to Inland Revenue.

The liquidator, Imran Kamal, dubbed him “completely reckless” in 2019 after continuing to work for a year without paying any GST or PAYE.

Kamal told Mountain Scene $792,000 was then still outstanding with little likelihood of it being recovered.

“He had work flowing out of his ears [but] paid no … GST, no PAYE. [It’s] just completely reckless.”

‘It’s hard to imagine a female more vulnerable’

On a night in December 2013, Melgren went to a woman’s home where they drank a “substantial” amount of alcohol, and did a “modest” amount of the drug LSD.

The woman was so intoxicated that she decided to go to bed.

Some time later, she woke up to find Melgren having sex with her.

On waking she was shocked and told him to get off. He left the bedroom.

There was evidence at trial that Melgren returned later, but the reason for doing so was “unclear” on the evidence, Judge Down said.

However, Crown prosecutor Jacinda Hamilton argued there was an element of persistence to his actions.

“I accept that when she told him to stop he immediately got off her.”

Hamilton pushed for an eight-year starting point, while Melgren’s counsel Richard Barnsdale suggested a six-year start.

Barnsdale said his client was significantly remorseful for what happened and Judge Down accepted that it was genuine.

The judge noted three aggravating factors, most significantly the victim’s vulnerability as she was sleeping at the time.

“In particular, the vulnerability of the victim I assess as being particularly high in this case.

“She being both intoxicated and asleep … It’s hard to imagine a situation where a female is more vulnerable than she was in this case.”

The rape had left the victim traumatized; it had affected her confidence around men and many aspects of her life.

As for the contents of Melgren’s Section 27 cultural report, Judge Down said it wasn’t of “great assistance”.

“Mr. Melgren did not have a terrible background, but he was subjected to violence in the family home, seemingly at the hands of his stepfather.

“Such trauma can have long-lasting effects and it may be an explanation for the prisoner’s reliance over the years on alcohol and other substances.”

Character references from family and friends supplied to the court described Melgren as a “hard-working man who is generally a good member of society and a good member of the family, and a good friend”.

“I accept that his conduct on this occasion … was out of character for him,” Judge Down said.

He took a starting point of seven years and six months before offering a combined discount of 15 percent for the cultural report, remorse, insight, and rehabilitative factors.

Judge Down said there was a “reasonable prospect” of Melgren not committing any similar offenses once he was released.

After being sent down to the cells, a woman in the public gallery yelled out “Love you, Jaden”.

SEXUAL HARM

Where to get help:

If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact 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

Alternatively contact your local police station – click here for a list.

If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it’s not your fault.

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