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Joe Thompson (South Auckland Serial Rapist)
July 1995 - Joseph Stephenson Thompson stood before the courts to answer 129 charges and a total of 61 sexual violations. His reign of terror spanned a decade, his victims, the woman of South Auckland, his plea "Guilty" to all charges. Thanks to break through DNA technology, finally the South Auckland Serial Rapist was behind bars.
One of twelve children, Joseph Stephen Thompson was born in Whakatane on the third of August 1958. His home life was one of insecurity and hardship. Thompson’s father Charlie would often have late night party, somewhat similar to a scene from "Once were warriors". A male friend of the family would often creep into bed with Joe and sodomise him while the partygoers partied on. Joe was rewarded with left over change in payment for the abuse.

In 1968 (Aged 10) many of the children were farmed out to other relatives and around the time of Joe’s first conviction, his parents separated. Joe was sent to live with his grandfather. When he was returned to his mother a year later, she packed him and his younger brother in to a taxi and sent them to their father’s house. Charlie wasn’t at home upon their arrival and the boys were placed into social welfare care for a couple of days.

By age 14, he was living in Greenlane with his father, Charlie and his new wife, Emma. It didn’t take long for Emma to find a way to get rid of the boy; she simply moved house and left Joe behind. He stayed with various relatives on and off for a couple of years.

Leaving school at age 15, Joseph joined a gang known as the "storm troopers". In 1974 he was charged with car conversion and sent to live with his mother. In 1976 he was charged with attempting to steal a car and was disqualified from driving and was on probation. He appeared before the courts several more times for drunk driving and driving whilst disqualified. His first partner, with whom he had two children, left him, as she could no longer accept stand his beatings and drunken behavior.

During March 1983 Joseph (25) went to visit a mate, who happened to live next door to a very attractive young lady. Finding his mate not home he decided to make an unannounced visit to the woman next door. Breaking into her Mount Eden home through an unsecured window, he hid until the 21-year old woman returned home from the movies. Still he didn’t reveal himself, he hid and waited until he was sure that she was sleeping, then raped her at knifepoint. Cutting the telephone cord, Thompson disappeared leaving the victim to run outside to seek help.

This begun the "South Auckland Serial Rapist's" reign of terror. Thompson made a collection of old keys, which he found useful for opening doors on the houses of his victims.

In February '93, in the suburbs of Sandringham, Joseph Thompson gained entry into a 25-year-old nurse's home. When the young woman surprised him in the hallway, he beat her badly and raped her. Also during this time Thompson was committing other burglaries around South Auckland suburbs.

Mid 1985 Thompson's second partner left him with their baby daughter, as she too, could no longer take the violence.

During 1986, a 24-year-old student returned home to her Mount Eden flat to find Thompson waiting in the bedroom. He attacked and raped her, leaving her with a verneral disease.

After this, Thompson was sentenced to nine months in jail, and came out after serving four. Between the months of Jan 1988 - June 1989 he raped and/or attacked at least 11 others in the Mount Eden area and 1 in neighbouring Papatoetoe.

Thompson’s choice of suburbs in South Auckland were those of lower socio economic level, as often there was not a responsible male present at the house, doors and windows were often not secure and on children were sometimes left on their own without any adults at all.

Before committing an attack, he would often take a knife from the kitchen and use it to threaten the victim, warding off pleas to stop and screams with punches to the face.

His depraved rampage continued when he moved back to Otara. The ages of his victim’s varied and he was often not discouraged when chased away, returning later to finish the job. He would often torment his victims and on one occasion said to a 12-year-old victim (after kissing her on the cheek) "Maybe I’ll come and live with you".

However not all his attacks were successful, some girls bravely fought back against him, one kneeing him in the groin and another cutting him across the face with a pocketknife.

In 1989 – he broke up with his partner and became engaged in a custody battle over the children. As he left his lawyers office one afternoon he followed a 14-year girl to her home directly across the road from the lawyers and raped her.

His list of conquests kept growing until 1990 when an attack on an 18-year-old woman that Thompson had raped on her way home was re-constructed on 'Crimewatch'. (Joe watched the telecast as he sat with his children.) This p
It is difficult to think of any person who has brought more pain and misery to so many people in New Zealand history - Justice Fisher
rogram brought few leads and Thompson continued his attacks.

In 1993 he moved to Clendon in Manurewa and in February raped a 12-year-old, 4 times in one attack. Finally a DNA sample was taken from the scene. Results from the sample led the police to believe they were after a serial rapist.

The police set up Operation Park on August 30,1993, to catch the South Auckland Rapist.

Investigation head was Detective Senior Sergeant John Gott with Detective Sergeant Dave Wood second in command. Media were brought in to publicise the case and advertisements were placed in local newspapers asking the rapist to give himself up.

Meanwhile Thompson continued. On one occasion a 15 year old girl was brushing her hair and saw a stranger's face staring through the window. Alerting the men in the house at the time, they told her to check for herself. Leaving the house and seeing nothing she turned. Thompson grabbed and raped her. Her screams drowned out by the rain, she was then dragged to the Mountfort Park, tied to a tree and raped again. This was followed by an attack on a different girl, this time a 10 year old. (Thompson's youngest victim)

Moving on to Manurewa and on to a 14 year old victim, Thompson (now aware the danger of DNA samples) tried to wipe the evidence off the victims body but left the cloth behind as he fled.

In March 1994, the police were compiling a list of possible profilers and were approaching those on the list for blood samples. Covert police watched the South Auckland areas at night for men fitting the profile description. Still the rapes continued. One of the victims had been punched in the mouth and her broken tooth had cut Thompson's hand. Now with a blood sample of the serial rapist, the police were closing in.

Deductions were made that the rapist most likely had a previous conviction and had possibly spent time in jail due to the lengthy periods between some attacks. By accessing prison and conviction records they started narrowing down the list and collecting blood samples from men fitting the suspect's description.

Being no stranger to the law during the times, it didn’t take long for Joe Thompson’s name to appear on the list.

Meanwhile, at the start of 1995, Thompson moved to Mt Albert to live with his partner, Joanne. Looking for a new start, they were married on the 25 March 1995.

On April 26, 1995, Thompson was contacted for a blood sample, as were many others on the list. Thompson told the detective that due to his Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs he was unable to give blood. He was convinced to provide a saliva sample instead but didn’t appear for the test and was apparently off work sick. Two policemen traced him to his home and took him in for testing. Although he had tried to sabotage the test by smoking directly beforehand, the saliva test was Thompson's undoing.

In mid-June 1995, police were advised that Thompson's oral swab had passed the first stage of identification. Thompson was placed under tight police surveillance as they worked on building a case on the suspect. It is believed that two attempted attacks were avoided during just the time he was under surveillance. Testing and collection of evidence continued.

When the second test returned positive, the police returned to Thompson’s home with 4 police cars and a police dog. This however, proved to be unnecessary. Thompson commented upon answering the door that he had been expecting them, had a wash and grabbed a jacket.

He spent the weekend pouring his confessions on to video, apparently unburdening himself.

He admitted to all the crimes the police had connected him with and even confessed to some that they hadn’t.

On 17 July 1995, 37 year old Joseph Stephenson Thompson stood before Justice Fisher in Otahuhu District Court answering 15 counts of rape. On 31 July 1995 the man that effected the lives of so many New Zealanders, finally stood before the courts to answer 129 charges, 46 of those sexual violations of woman and young girls (a total of 61 sexual violations, counting the 15 on 17 July 1995).

He pleaded guilty to all charges, which is believed to be the record number of guilty pleas in the history of a commonwealth country.

Justice Fisher commented at the trail "It is difficult to think of any person who has brought more pain and misery to so many people in New Zealand history"

Thompson was sentenced to 30 years prison with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 25 years. Although the sentence was appealed it was declined and finally the Auckland serial rapist's reign of terror was over.

Back to Sex Related Crime Index

Joseph Stevenson Thompson earned infamy as NZ's first serial rapist.

 Joe Thompson Portrait 

 Joe Thompson Portrait 

 Caught By His Past Book Cover 

 Caught By His Past Book Cover 

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