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Repeat offender not deterred by weak sentence

stop demand

A call for action to
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Media Release 4 October 2005

Repeat child sex abuse image offender not deterred by weak sentence

An offender let off lightly two years ago, for trading images the Judge said were as bad as could be imagined, was yesterday back before the Court for similar offending.

In December 2003 Aucklander Stephen John Laing’s offences involved the trading, advertising and collecting of images that included rape of children as young as three, toddlers being tortured and adults inflicting sexual acts on babies. At the time, despite stating the images were as bad as could be imagined, the Judge chose not to send Lang to prison but imposed a fine, community work and supervision for two years including the attendance at sex offender counselling. The weak sentence was criticised by community groups seeking an end to the trade.

Yesterday in the Waitakere District Court Laing was jailed for a year, to be followed by six months on special release conditions. Leave to apply for home detention was refused. Laing pleaded guilty to 33 charges of collecting, advertising and distributing images of children aged from two months to 10 years being sexually abused by adults. The images, mostly of babies being sexually assaulted, included the “extreme abuse of baby girls”.

Laing had used various subterfuges and different Internet identities over a three-year period to avoid detection but the skilled work and persistence of the Department of Internal Affairs’ Inspectors eventually led them to Laing. “The close collaboration between New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs’ dedicated unit and US and Canadian enforcement agencies must be commended,” says Stop Demand Foundation spokesperson Denise Ritchie.

“But what is of serious concern is that from December 2003 Laing was supposed to be under two years’ supervision including attending counselling for sex offenders, yet the evidence shows he was tracked offending throughout this entire period. Some serious questions need to be asked about the quality of ‘supervision’ and the benefit of ‘counselling’ to such offenders. This case also highlights the fact that imposing weak and inadequate sentences provides little deterrence for future offending. Men like Laing are involved in sexual crimes against children. They ‘relive’ and ‘get off’ on the sexual abuse inflicted on children and babies. Their trading of such images requires more children to be raped and abused. If we are to stop the global trade in child sex abuse images, the Court must come down heavily on offenders.”


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