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Strong message in jailing

ECPAT NZ is part of a global network committed to the prevention of sexual exploitation of children


Strong message in jailing

The stiffest sentence yet for a collector and distributor of child sex abuse pictures must serve as a lesson for all such offenders

In June 2006, the Department of Internal Affairs Censorship Compliance Unit received information from police in Ottawa, Canada, that a person from New Zealand was advertising on a Yahoo internet group which was devoted to persons interested in child sexual abuse.

That person, who called himself “dadwithnewborn”, asked for any parents with a child between 0 and 10 years to email, webcam or send digital photos to him.

The defendant had used a Google internet mail service, called Hello, to send the pictures, along with brief messages to persons who had answered his advertising.

On 31 July 2007 Laing was convicted for a third time after pleading guilty to 12 charges of distribution and 33 charges of possession of objectionable publications

While Laing was on bail awaiting sentence for his third conviction the Department received information that he had continued to offend. He pleaded guilty a fourth time in October 2007 to a further 11 similar charges and was remanded in custody to await sentence on a total of 56 charges of possession and distribution (the total of the third and fourth convictions)

He had previously been convicted in November 03 for 28 offences and in Oct 2005 for 33 offences under the Film Videos and Publications Classification Act

Sentence on the first conviction was two years supervision, 350 hours community work and fined. On the second conviction Laing was jailed for one year

The Department of Internal Affairs through counsel Phil Hamlin says Laing’s offending is the most serious of its kind so far in New Zealand, primarily because of the recidivist and brazen nature of the offending

The publications indicate significant depravity…Children from as young as six weeks through to 12 years old were depicted in sexual positions and being sexually abused, including the rape of a baby and four year old girls
The stiffest sentence yet for a collector and distributor of child sex abuse pictures must serve as a lesson for all such offenders, Internal Affairs Deputy Secretary, Keith Manch, said today.

Computer technician, Stephen John Laing, 25, of Massey, appearing in the Waitakere District Court was jailed for five years today following his fourth conviction for possessing and distributing objectionable publications. The previous heaviest sentence is three and a half years prison, imposed on a Waikato man in October 2005 after Parliament passed new stiffer penalties in February 2005.

Judge Philip Recordon said Laing was a serious and persistent offender over a lengthy time who encouraged others to commit offences against children. The judge’s starting point for sentencing was seven and a half years but he gave Laing credit for his early guilty pleas.

The Department told the court that Laing’s offending was the most serious of its kind so far in New Zealand, primarily because of its recidivist and brazen nature.

“On four separate occasions over several years our censorship inspectors have caught Laing trading in pictures of children being sexually abused. Previous sentences, including attempts at rehabilitation, had clearly failed. Laing’s continued offending indicated significant depravity with pictures of children as young as six weeks through to 12 years

“We were particularly concerned that Laing promoted and solicited objectionable material, seeking personalised messages on photos of young victims. By encouraging the sexual abuse of vulnerable children he was, by his involvement on line, a party to these crimes.

“The Department has a dedicated team of inspectors monitoring the internet for such offenders. We also exchange intelligence with international agencies in the worldwide fight against this despicable trade. So people like Laing must realise that they will be caught, because no matter what they do everything is traceable on the computer.

Statement by ECPAT NZ Director; Lyn Mayson
While ECPAT NZ applauds the work done by the NZ DIA in collaboration and co-operation with the Canadians we find the term of the sentence somewhat lacking.

Judge Recordon did use the upper end of the sentencing term, however this Laing who has had several previous opportunities to “rehabilitate” have been unsuccessful to the damage and detriment of several more children from 0 to 12 years of age.

Is that OK New Zealand?

This is not a victimless crime and in fact the number of victims has not even been identified. Child pornography is “Child Sexual Abuse” yet our laws treat it like a internet/censorship crime.
Objectionable material when it is Child Sexual abuse.

The consequence for the victims and their families are serious and lifelong. The fact that digital images were made can result in ongoing stress and anxiety as there can be no guarantees as to where and when these images might be distributed.

In the interest of protecting our children it is important that those breaking the law in regard to child pornography are dealt with strongly as a deterrent to others. “However perhaps the most disturbing element is the evidence collected over a period of time that reveals the nature of child sex abuse cases are becoming more tragic and horrific as they have their innocence ripped from them. Their images are now available forever and can never be retrieved.

ECPAT is determined to support the bringing to justice of offenders like these and also to assist organisations to take adequate protective measures so that children are not subjected to this disgusting behaviour that scars their life forever.

ECPAT is a not for profit agency set up to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

ENDS

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