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Lawyer convicted of child pornography

9 March 2006

Lawyer convicted of child pornography further censured by Disciplinary Tribunal

A decision by the New Zealand Law Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal handed down in Christchurch today, saw prominent Queenstown lawyer and former district councillor Wayne McKeague narrowly escaping being struck off the law practitioners register.

McKeague, 58, was convicted in May last year for having pornographic images of 12-to-14 year old girls on his computer and fined a paltry $2,700. His offending attracted a maximum six-month prison sentence.

In today’s censure, McKeague had further fines and costs of almost $18,000 imposed on him and was required to give an undertaking not to practice law involving children and young persons. The Tribunal declined to strike him off the register or suspend him, believing McKeague to have taken responsibility for his offending and noting that he had paid a heavy price since his actions came to public attention.

Denise Ritchie, barrister and founder of Stop Demand Foundation, a group working to end the sexual exploitation of children, welcomed the Tribunal’s decision but queried whether McKeague had shown genuine understanding of the grave nature of his offending. Last year, McKeague reportedly claimed his charge came amidst “a huge wave of hysteria”. His lawyer further argued that there had been “no real victims” of McKeague’s crime.

“McKeague’s statements last year demonstrated a lack of insight into the harm and degradation inflicted on these young girls, many of whom will have been victims of coercion, intimidation, force or trafficking. They will have been sexually posed and degraded by men with cameras, to meet a market demand from offenders like McKeague who subscribe to websites dedicated to the sexual exploitation of minors,” says Denise Ritchie.

Stop Demand praised the Tribunal for forbidding McKeague to practice law involving children and young people. “Persons who seek out and pay for sexually exploitative images of minors deliberately and repeatedly should not be in professional positions involving minors, whatever their excuses or protestations once they are caught.”

The global trade in child sex abuse images is predicated upon demand and supply. “Strategically if we hope to combat this global trade, we must focus on stopping demand.”

ENDS

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