The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Jailed for child sex abuse pictures

6 July 2016

A 35-year-old Christchurch man was today jailed for four years and two months on offences involving objectionable pictures of child sex abuse.

Rhys Nathan Firth, 35, knife hand, of Rolleston, appeared for sentence in the Christchurch District Court after pleading guilty to distributing and possessing objectionable videos and images depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, many of them girls aged 10 or younger, including babies and toddlers.

Internal Affairs’ inspectors seized computer equipment, several mobile phones and cameras from his home in September 2014.The two representative charges Firth pleaded guilty to covered the period 1 July 2013 to 22 September 2014 but the Department found evidence that he had been engaging in this conduct since 2002. Firth used a Russian-based website to find contacts to trade material with. He distributed at least 400 objectionable computer files to at least 18 people by email and possessed about 24,000 images and over 1800 videos of children being sexually abused. He also had 5200 image files and over 450 videos depicting bestiality. Firth also pleaded guilty to a further possession charge laid by Police after he engaged in Internet activity in January this year.

The Department’s prosecuting counsel, Tamsyn Badland, submitted that the seriousness of the offending warranted, as a starting point, seven years’ imprisonment.

Significant aggravating factors included Firth’s prolonged, repetitive and frequent offending; offering to exchange non-objectionable pictures of children for child sexual abuse material; paying for material and contributing material to another offender for on-sale; requesting new material and encouraging offenders to send him pictures of their daughters.

Censorship Compliance Manager, Steve O’Brien, said there is a global community, including Internal Affairs, combatting the child sexual abuse trade.

“It’s only a matter of time before people indulging in this activity get caught,” Mr O’Brien said. “It is important for our community to remember that the children who are featured in these objectionable images are themselves victims, coerced into participating in photographs and films by sick and dangerous people.

“Child sex abuse imagery is not a victimless crime as it involves real children forced into degrading acts.

“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.”

Media contact:
Steve O’Brien, Manager Censorship Compliance, Department of Internal Affairs
Phone: 027 220 5899