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Leave To Apply For Home Detention

Media release 31 March 2004

Leave To Apply For Home Detention Trivialises
Child Sex Abuse

Yesterday’s decision by the Blenheim District Court, to grant Stephen Karl Folster leave to apply for home detention to serve his sentence for distributing and collecting electronic pictures of babies and children being raped and violently abused, raises major concerns.

ECPAT and Stop Demand, two groups working to end the trade in child sex abuse images, labelled the decision as “deeply concerning”. Spokesperson for both groups, Denise Ritchie, says “Traders in child sex abuse images generally commit these offences from within their own home. For offenders to be granted leave to apply for home detention to serve their sentence suggests a lack of understanding about the nature of the trade and those who are involved, and raises major concerns. Even where the Court confiscates a home computer, what’s to stop offenders on home detention purchasing another? What’s to stop a third party from bringing in a laptop? Neither is it uncommon for collectors of such images to hide material that might not be caught under the initial search warrant. The opportunities to re-offend are considerable and we have no confidence in any service’s ability to properly monitor home detention in such cases.”

“Most importantly,” says Ritchie, “leave to apply for home detention trivialises the gravity of the offending. If granted, it would provide little deterrent to other offenders. Leave to apply, in itself, implies that those who contribute directly to the online rape and sexual abuse of babies and children are committing offences at the lowest end of the scale. That is an inappropriate message to be coming from the New Zealand Courts, particularly when there are increasing global efforts to stamp out the trade. If our hope is to end the trade, we must crack down heavily on those creating the demand - men like Folster. A prison sentence served in prison, combined with a compulsory sex offender treatment programme, is the only appropriate penalty.”


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