The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Former school principal jailed

21 May 2015

A former West Auckland school principal was jailed for 16 months today after Internal Affairs inspectors uncovered thousands of child sex abuse images on school computer equipment.

Name suppression was lifted for the Henderson Valley man, when he appeared for sentence in the Auckland District Court having pleaded guilty to 25 charges of possessing objectionable images.

In 2013 United States law enforcement authorities alerted Internal Affairs to images of young girls naked or in sexualised poses on a social network site. IA inspectors established they had come via an Internet link from a school in West Auckland and executed a search warrant in December 2013, not knowing who was responsible for them.

They spoke to the principal, examined school computer equipment and established that he had operated his profile from March 2010 to September 2013 using the school’s Internet link. The man said he had collected pornographic images “for some years” and used the school’s Internet links to conduct his viewing and collecting since about 2009. He could not say why he possessed child abuse material but knew it was unacceptable.

He had a pornographic collection of over 393,000 images, 77,000 or 20 per cent of which were objectionable. They included scenes of torture, rape and bestiality. He had also captioned a high proportion of images with references to school and the teaching profession. There was no indication that any of the objectionable images were of children at the school.

Judge Nicola Mathers agreed with the Department’s submission from Crown lawyer, Natalie Small, that, as principal, the man's offending was a gross breach of trust. Judge Mathers said the need for accountability was paramount and only imprisonment would serve that end.

Internal Affairs Community Safety Manager, Steve O’Brien, said people who collect child sex abuse images create a market for more such abuse.

“Trading or viewing these images is not passive offending because it condones the abuse children suffer. People, who look at this, pass it on and use it, encourage those who actually photograph the children.

“We work with overseas agencies swapping intelligence about people using the Internet to traffic in objectionable material and we have dedicated inspectors with the expertise to track down collectors. No matter what you do to try and conceal your offending everything is traceable on your computer.”

Maximum penalties for objectionable publication offences increased this month. The maximum penalty for the manufacture or distribution of objectionable publications rose from 10 years’ to 14 years’ imprisonment and the penalty for possession doubled from five to 10 years’ jail.