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Judiciary Fails to Use Full Weight of Law

Media Release Tuesday 29 2005

Concern Mounts - Judiciary Fails to Use Full Weight of Amended Law

Yesterday Stephen Thomas Clode was sentenced at the Pukekohe District Court yesterday on six charges of indecent assault and one charge each of possessing, making and distributing objectionable material.

Jane Foster, National Director of ECPAT says “This offender was sentenced under the amended censorship law that provides for stern sentences - the offender was found to have more than sixteen thousand (16,000) images of children aged from three years – some including animals, being sexually abused.

Clode was a CYF caregiver who abused his 10-year-old charge, took indecent photos of her and two siblings. In addition he was also found guilty of indecently assaulting a teenage Korean home stay student. His prison sentence totalled five years and three months. However he will only serve two years and nine months maximum as sentencing was ordered to run concurrently. This sentence does not appear to recognize the seriousness of the offences.

Last month David Malcolm Walker was sentenced in the Hamilton District Court to three-and-a-half years prison for possessing and distributing images of children being sexually abused. Walker was the first person to be sentenced under the law that was amended in February this year to provide for sentences of up to five years for possession and up to ten years for distributing the se images. Walker was guilty of both but was only sentenced to three-and-a-half years in total because of an early guilty plea.

Like the Walker case Clode’s sentence sends a message that although the judiciary has the tools to meet out appropriate punishment to offenders with the amended law they are failing to use it. This does not send the right message to those who may be tempted to offend in this practice of degrading our children.”

The Crown prosecutor Richard Marchant had sought a total prison sentence of six years as a starting point. However given the concurrent sentencing by Judge Blackie, Clode will serve only two years and nine months for the set of three charges. Clode's early guilty plea and that he had sought counselling were taken into account.

“To allow an offender to escape the full weight of the law just because he pleads guilty is a let off. The increased penalties for offending against our children have been a long time coming and it is to be hoped that the sentences will start reflecting the serious of what these offenders are doing and that the courts will use the law to full effect.”

ENDS

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