The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Jail term imposed: Department thwarts new technology


The jailing today of a Hamilton man has reinforced the Department of Internal Affairs success against new ways of using the Internet to distribute and collect child sex abuse images.

The Hamilton District Court sentenced the man to one year’s imprisonment on 50 representative charges of using one form of what are known as “peer-to-peer” applications to distribute and possess objectionable movies and pictures. The court refused to grant leave for him to apply for home detention.

His collection was of adults raping and sexually abusing babies and children, and of babies and children being sexually posed. The children were aged from six months to 14 years.

The Director of the Department’s Gaming and Censorship Regulation Group, Keith Manch, said that offenders have started to use peer-to-peer applications because they incorrectly believed that law enforcement agencies could not track them.

”They are wrong,” Mr Manch said. “We can and do track them.

“About a year ago we became aware of New Zealanders starting to use peer-to-peer applications to distribute and collect child sex abuse images. Six of them have now been convicted, another seven cases are before the courts and more are being investigated.

“How the Internet is used, or misused, is constantly changing. Offenders have misused bulletin boards, websites, Internet relay chat channels and now peer-to-peer applications.

“The challenge for enforcement agencies is to keep up with the changes. International co-operation is vital. As soon as one agency detects a new trend or develops a new way of tracking offenders, then we can all use that information.”

This case began on 17 May 2003 when a Canadian agency detected a New Zealander using a peer-to-peer application to make available 738 movies and picture files of children performing sexual acts.

The information was passed on to the Department, which identified the New Zealander and tracked him to his home in Hamilton.

On 28 May 2003, Department Inspectors executed a search warrant and seized his computer. When interviewed, he admitted using his computer almost every day to search for child sex abuse images, that he had hundreds of such images on his computer, and that he knew that what he was doing was illegal.

Analysis of the computer revealed 38,664 pictures and 2,136 movies of babies and children being raped, sexually abused and sexually posed.

The Department prosecuted the man who pleaded guilty to all 27 charges of making the 738 movies and pictures available to others and to 23 charges of possession. He is a 28-year-old computer studies student.

Peer-to-peer applications

Peer-to-peer applications allow Internet users to share and download files from each other’s computers. The files can include videos, pictures, text and music.

Users choose which of their own files they want to share, give them descriptive names and then make them available to anyone on the Internet with the same application.

People using the same application carry out keyword searches to find files and download them to their computers.

Background note for writers and editors:
“Child sex abuse images”: explaining our terminology

The Department of Internal Affairs has made the decision to no longer use the words “pornography” or “porn” when it describes the images on which most of its prosecutions are based. This avoids the risk of confusing the abuse of children with images of consensual adult sexual activity.

Most of the Department’s action is against electronic movies and pictures taken by abusers as they rape, abuse or violently assault children. It uses the phrase “child sex abuse images” to more accurately describe these images.

Where the images are of children in sexual poses or involved in sexual acts, the Department uses the phrase “sexual images of children”. However, it is important to always keep in mind that children being sexually posed, or made to take part in sex acts, are being abused and exploited by those very actions, their images may be on the Internet forever, and the images promote the exploitation of more children.

The Department never uses the phrase “kiddie porn”. Most people working in prevention of sexual abuse, and those who work with its victims, find the term offensive. It is a mocking phrase that minimises rape, assault and exploitation of children.

The Department acknowledges the right of writers and editors to set their own style and standards. While the final decision on what words to use is their responsibility, the Department asks that the points made in this note be considered when our statements are used.

Media contact:

Keith Manch
Director Gaming and Censorship Regulation Phone 04 495 9449, Cellular 027 445 6420

Vince Cholewa
Communications Advisor Phone 04 495 9350, Cellular 027 272 4270