Bankrupt builder Jaden Melgren jailed for raping sleeping woman |

Jaden Melgren, pictured in 2019 during his trading troubles.

David White/Things

Jaden Melgren, pictured in 2019 during his trading troubles.

A bankrupt builder who lived a lavish lifestyle while racking up almost a million dollars in debt has been jailed for raping a woman in her sleep.

“It’s hard to imagine a situation where a woman would be more vulnerable than in this case,” Judge Jonathan Down said as he sentenced Jaden Arian Melgren to six years and four months in prison.

Melgren appeared in Hamilton District Court on Monday after being found guilty by a jury of raping the woman after she had gone to sleep at his home.

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Details of that incident, in December 2013, cannot be reported without revealing the identity of the victim, but it can be revealed that she was an adult woman who knew him.

Both the victim and the accused had consumed alcohol prior to the incident, and it appears that a small amount of LSD was also consumed.

The victim was in bed, fully clothed and asleep when Melgren entered her bedroom, pulled down her pants and began raping her.

She woke up while he was doing this and in shock told him to get away from her. He left the room immediately, but returned shortly, scaring her. The judge, however, noted that it was not clear whether he had asked again what was going on or to continue the sexual activity.

Before he was sentenced, Melgren’s attorney, Richard Barnsdale, sought a starting point of less than six years in prison.

The incident had been “out of character” for his client who “while not exemplary” had overcome numerous problems in his life, not the least of which was a substance abuse problem.

“While it’s not an excuse, it’s certainly an explanation for how this event happened.

“Any prison term for this man will be a substantial sentence.”

Although he had pleaded not guilty and the matter had gone to trial, Melgren now expressed extreme remorse, Barnsdale said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comment of remorse as extreme as this.”

Crown prosecutor Jacinda Hamilton asked for a starting point of eight years in prison, but said that was a conservative figure, given the nature of the offense and the breach of trust involved.

However, he agreed that Melgren showed a view of his actions “that was not present during the trial”.

Melgren had come to court with a string of character references which Judge Down said described him as “a hard-working man who is generally a good member of society”.

The judge took seven years and six months in prison as the starting point for the sentence. Melgren’s remorse and potential for rehabilitation warranted a 10% discount; and his lack of previous criminal offenses and good character references accounted for a further 5%, leading to a final sentence of six years and four months.

It is not the first time that Melgren has made news for his actions.

He became bankrupt in 2018 after his Queenstown-based company, True Line Builders Ltd, went into voluntary liquidation in July 2017, owing about $800,000.

He subsequently incurred more ire from creditors in 2019 after another company he was closely associated with also went into liquidation, with about $180,000.

The sole shareholder and director of Old School Carpentry Ltd was his wife, Jacqueline Melgren, but Jaden Melgren “managed it operationally”, according to liquidator Imran Kamal.

Jaden Melgren, at the time, was still living a lavish lifestyle, despite continuing to recklessly trade, Kamal told Stuff.

Old School Carpentry had made about $300,000 in its first year of trading, but paid no taxes.

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