The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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Department will not close cases if child pornography offenders flee the country

The Department of Internal Affairs today sent a warning to child pornography offenders who leave the country to try to avoid court action: these offenders have two choices, they, in effect, exile themselves from New Zealand permanently or they come back to face the court action.

“We will not close the file,” the General Manager of the Department’s Gaming and Censorship Regulation Group, Keith Manch, said, “not after one year, two years or 10 years.”

The warning came after the sentencing of a man in the Wellington District Court on 13 charges of trading and collecting images of children performing sexual acts, adult women being raped by groups of men, torture and bestiality.

After absconding more than three years ago, he returned home and gave himself up.

Today, the court gave him 48 hours to pay fines totalling $8,000 or he would, instead, be jailed.

At a defended hearing in May 2000, he had pleaded not guilty to all the charges but was found guilty the following month.

However, before sentencing he absconded to Australia and in July 2000 the Court issued a warrant for his arrest.

“It does not matter how long offenders try to run from court action,” Mr Manch said. “We will not close the prosecution file. We give their names to New Zealand Customs so they can be detected when they return and, where possible, we work with overseas agencies to keep track of them.”

Currently, it is very unlikely that New Zealand offenders could be extradited because they do not face long jail terms here. The penalties are up to one year in jail on trading charges and a fine of up to $2,000 on possession charges.

However, on Tuesday last week the Government introduced legislation that proposes to include child pornography offending in existing extradition treaties and increase the penalty for trading child pornography to up to 10 years in jail and that for possession to up to two years jail.

This case began in November 1997 when a Department Inspector detected a New Zealander using the nickname “Joe90” operating in Internet relay chat channels dedicated to child pornography, bestiality, rape and torture.

An investigation eventually tracked “Joe90” to a Hamilton address and identified him as the defendant. A search warrant was executed in April 1998 and his computer was seized.

Analysis of the computer found 50 objectionable files. When interviewed, he said that he used the nicknames “Joe90” and “Ashmodai” during Internet relay chat sessions and admitted that he exchanged objectionable pictures with other people on the Internet.

After the investigation had started he moved to Wellington and charges were filed in the Wellington District Court in November 1998.

“This case has taken six years from beginning to end,” Mr Manch said. “He tried to avoid detection, the case went through a protracted legal process and then he absconded to Australia.

“The Department was persistent throughout and the offender has been sentenced.

“This is a warning to others, we will eventually catch New Zealanders who choose to continue trading and collecting child pornography.

“If people are using child pornography and need help to stop, then they should contact SAFE Network in Auckland, STOP programmes in other towns or counsellors or psychologists with experience in working with sexual issues.”

Media contact:

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

Vincent Cholewa
Communications Advisor Phone 04 495 9350, Cellular 025 272 4270