true crime

This man put his daughter's head in a box while he raped her. Yesterday, he walked free.

For more than two decades Ronald van der Plaat’s kept his daughter as his sex slave.

Tanjas Darke was just 9-years-old when she became a victim of her father’s “indescribable cruelty”.

She was kept her tied up their home in Vanuatu and later Auckland. There she was beaten, raped and sexually tortured. She did not escape her father’s torture until she was 32-years-old.

“It happened so quick I didn’t even have time to turn around and wave goodbye to my childhood,” she told the New Zealand Herald in 2001, soon after he was jailed for his crimes. “It was like being on a ship at sea. You could see the land but you couldn’t touch it.”

Dutch-born Van der Plaat is considered one of New Zealander worst ever sex offenders and has spent the last 15 years and 10 months behind bars.

Today, at 82,  he was released – back into the same community and the same house where he committed his crimes.

A local news report on the story (post continues after video):

Video by Newshub

Sometimes compared to Austria’s Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter captive and abused her for 24 years, Van der Plaat’s preferred tools of physical bondage included handcuffs, chains and clamps.

On one occasion, he padlocked Darke’s head inside a wooden box while he raped her.

In later years he forced her to cook and clean for him and at one point she fell pregnant but miscarried.

Despite his heinous crimes, Van der Plaat has reached the end of his sentence – so authorities have no choice but to release him, despite concerns raised by the Parole Board that he could re-offend.


An unknown woman was seen locking the gate at Van der Plaat's property today. Source: Newshub

His freedom is conditional on wearing a GPS tracking device, but only for six months.

The Department of Corrections has applied to have the period of GPS tracking extended to ten years.

He has returned to the house that he owns - the same home where he abused his daughter.

Local residents are concerned about having him living in their midst, particularly given his home is only 400m from a primary school with two child care centres nearby.

"From a parent's point of view I want him strung up by the goolies and never let go," neighbour Teressa Thomson told Newshub.

"We have got our eyes on him and he needs to know he's not going to get away with it again."

"[I'm] not happy about him being here, but he has to go somewhere," another, Leslie Ashwood, conceded. "Someone in their right mind just decided he's going to be released. Don't know why."

Van der Plaat released on parole in 2010 - but authorities sent him back to prison in 2012 when he was spotted at a museum walking hand-in-hand with a little girl "of Asian descent". Police discovered that he had befriended the little girl's mother, but had not told her of his criminal history of sexual offending against children.

A woman was seen at Van de Plaat's home today, yelling at gathered media: "Get out, as soon as possible."

Which seems like advice his new neighbours might be tempted to take.

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