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No Prison For Trading Images Of 3yr Olds Raped

Media release 12 November 2003


How much worse can child pornography images get? According to the Judge, the images traded by Aucklander Stephen John Laing were as bad as could be imagined. Yet the Judge, despite having the power to send Laing to prison, chose not to.

Two community groups combating child pornography are extremely disappointed at yet another weak sentence that, they claim, does not reflect the gravity of the offending or act as a deterrent to others.

The criticism, from ECPAT and Stop Demand, follows the sentencing of the latest in a string of Kiwi child pornographers. Auckland student Stephen John Laing, pleaded guilty to 29 charges of trading, advertising and collecting images that included rape of children as young as three, toddlers being tortured and adults inflicting sexual acts on babies.

Yet despite the Judge noting that the images were as bad as could be imagined, he chose not to send Laing to prison, as he could have. It seems that the Judge took into account the fact that Laing was 19 at the time of the offending, that it was a first offence, his collection was small and the offending occurred over a short period of time.

But who is speaking up for those babies, toddlers and infants, the subjects of Laing’s offending? There are no “second chances” for them.

Spokesperson Denise Ritchie, said “Frankly, we are frustrated at hearing judges bemoan the shocking sex acts committed on babies, youngsters and children, threaten prison for future offenders, then hand out fines and community sentences to the person standing before them. The New Zealand Courts are seriously letting down global attempts to combat the child pornography trade by dishing out such weak sentences.”

“Every offender, like Laing, who perpetuates the market for this material should know that once caught they will be heading to prison. Judges already have the power to imprison those who trade such material. They do not need to wait for new laws to be introduced. For his eight charges of trading, Laing could have faced up to one year imprisonment on each charge.”


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