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Auckland man sentenced for child sexual abuse images

27 June 2014

Auckland man sentenced for child sexual abuse images

A 42-year-old Auckland man was sentenced to 10 months’ home detention and denied name suppression in the Auckland District Court yesterday, for sending and possessing electronic images and movies depicting child sexual abuse. He is appealing the suppression.

He was the first of six offenders identified under Operation Hyper, which Customs launched last June after receiving information from Queensland Police (Taskforce Argos) regarding a New Zealander who was chatting online to others about child sexual abuse images, and sending images of very young girls posing and performing acts of a sexual nature.

Forensic examination of his electronic devices located hundreds of saved and deleted images, and retrieved information that identified a network of online offenders.

Customs Manager Border Operations Shane Panettiere says it’s ironic that this man wants to remain anonymous to protect his privacy, as privacy is one thing child sexual abuse victims never have from the moment their images begin to circulate on the internet – a burden they carry for life.

“Most people don’t understand the seriousness of online child sexual exploitation – it is not harmless. Children suffer horrific sexual violation and this is photographed or filmed for the sexual enjoyment of others. These children are re-victimised every time these images are viewed,” he says.

Operation Hyper shows the alliance between Customs, Internal Affairs, NZ Police’s Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand Unit (OCEANZ) and Child Protection teams, and the Virtual Global Taskforce who are all committed to protecting children and targeting offenders, and worked together on the operation.

Local and United Kingdom authorities carried out simultaneous warrants in September 2013, uncovering information that led to two more warrants in December. Four New Zealand men and two UK men were caught, four children that could have been harmed were identified, and one six-year-old UK victim was rescued from physical abuse by her grandfather.

The Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill currently before Parliament will increase maximum penalties for importation, exportation and possession to 10 years, distribution to 14 years, and also covers a new offence for indecent communication with a child.

The New Zealand Customs Service is the government organisation that protects the community from potential risks arising from international trade and travel, while facilitating the legitimate movement of people and goods across the border. Established in 1840, it is New Zealand’s oldest government agency.

As New Zealand's gatekeepers our role includes intercepting contraband (such as illegal drugs); checking travellers and their baggage cargo and mail; protecting businesses against illegal trade; and assessing and collecting Customs duties, excise, and goods and services tax on imports. We use intelligence and risk assessment to target physical checks of containers, vessels or travellers. As a law enforcement agency we conduct investigations and audits, and prosecute offenders.

Customs works closely with NZ Police (OCEANZ) and the Department of Internal Affairs, and international agencies to combat the trading of child sexual abuse material and identifying and protecting children.

More information about Customs can be found on our website:www.customs.govt.nz

ENDS

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