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Student jailed for sex abuse pictures

Student jailed for sex abuse pictures

The jailing of a 22-year-old student for possessing and distributing pictures of children being sexually abused sends a strong warning to similar offenders of how society views their actions, Internal Affairs Deputy Secretary, Andrew Secker, said today.

In the North Shore District Court (on Jan 24) Judge Tom Ingram sentenced Andrei Vacaras, 22, a computer software engineer and student, of Whangaparoa, to 12 months’ imprisonment. Vacaras, who had not previously appeared before the court, pleaded guilty to 26 charges of possessing, distributing or supplying objectionable publications – pictures of children aged from three to 12 being sexually abused.

Judge Ingram said that unless the Court responded firmly to such offending the degradation of children would continue. The nature of the images, he said, was seriously detrimental to the public good. He declined Vacaras leave to apply for home detention saying, “offences of this kind occur all too easily in the home”.

Andrew Secker said a DIA censorship inspector detected Vacaras’ offending on the Internet on February 24, 2005 – three days after Parliament had greatly increased penalties for offences under the Films Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993.

“Courts can now impose up to 10 years’ jail for distributing child sex abuse images and up to five years for possession,” Mr Secker said. “This latest prosecution must send a strong warning to offenders – stop this trade or face the consequences. Our Inspectors are very active. People, who think they’re safe in the confines of their own home, indulging in this objectionable trafficking on the Internet, should think again. “

Judge Ingram took as a starting point for sentencing, 18 months’ imprisonment, reducing it to 12 after the guilty plea and other mitigating factors.

Summary of Vacaras’ offending

On 24 February 2005 a Department of Internal Affairs Censorship Inspector was searching the Internet for persons trading child sexual abuse images by scanning customers of an Internet application called KaZaA. This allows users to share and download files from other KaZaA users through a keyword search.

The inspector detected a New Zealander, making picture files available worldwide by leaving them in a shared folder in his KaZaA folders. They had titles, which would indicate that they were depicting children in sexual acts with adults.

A search warrant was executed at Vacaras’ Whangaparoa home on the 31st March 2005. His computer and accessories were seized and 26 objectionable pictures found.

Vacaras admitted he had accessed KaZaA for about six months searching for child sex pictures. He said he knew it was immoral, but didn’t know it was illegal.

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