Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Waikato man jailed for child abuse offences

A 36-year-old Waikato man has been jailed for three years after being convicted in Hamilton District Court today on 11 charges of possessing, exporting and making child sexual abuse material following a Customs investigation.

In May last year, Customs received a referral from the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that a New Zealander had allegedly distributed objectionable materials to six social media platforms.    

After identifying the defendant’s home address in the Waipa District of the Waikato, Customs conducted a search warrant on 16 May 2023.

In a statement, Customs said three devices linked to the man’s social media accounts were examined and found to contain child sexual abuse materials.

Further examination of these devices by Customs forensics experts uncovered more child sexual abuse material which had been viewed, stored and distributed. There was also evidence the man was screen-recording the objectionable material he was viewing on social media, Customs stated.

“Several of these screen-records were of one female child, who was 10-years-old at the time the materials were created. Customs investigators identified the child as living in the United States and referred the case to local Kentucky authorities, who were able to safeguard the girl several days later in June 2023,” a Customs statement reads.

Chief Customs Officer – Child Exploitation Operations Team, Simon Peterson, welcomed today’s sentencing, saying that not only was the Waikato man viewing the extreme sexual abuse of young girls, by screen-recording the videos and images he was promoting child sexual exploitation and re-victimisation. 

“This is not a victimless crime. Real children are abused in making of this type of material, which often will remain online forever,” said Mr Peterson.

“In this case, Customs was able to help safeguard one of those victims in the United States. We operate as part of a global taskforce and our top priority is always to try to identify and protect or safeguard any victims, wherever they are in the world,” he said.

If you have concerns or suspicions about someone who may be trading in or producing child sexual abuse images or videos, contact Customs confidentially on 0800 WE PROTECT (0800 937 768) or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you are, or know of, someone who is at risk or being abused, contact the Police immediately.  

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