The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

How DIA inspector helped rescue American sex abuse victim


19 May 2016

Swift detective work by a Christchurch-based Internal Affairs inspector led to the identification of a six-year-old American girl and the arrest of the man who had been sexually abusing her within four days.

Inspector Paul Duke used information gleaned from the mobile phone of Hanmer Springs barman, Drew Webb, to alert Houston police to the crime. Webb was yesterday jailed for six years on 47 charges involving making, distributing, importing and possessing objectionable child sex abuse photos and videos.

Inspector Duke seized Webb’s laptop and mobile phone in August 2014 after an online video chat website reported Webb’s activities to the Department.

“From what was on his phone and from what Webb told me I found a Facebook account of the American abuser and established his likely address using Google Earth street view,” Paul said. “I also sent pictures of the girl and her offender to Houston police and they found her when they visited the local school.”

Other images recovered from the phone led to the identification of a six-year-old New Zealand girl featured in a video recording by Webb.

Inspector Duke said that in the 20 years he has been investigating this type of offending the Webb case “stands head and shoulders” above all others.

“Webb came closest to being involved in the actual abuse of children by pretending he had access to a child and encouraging others to send him pictures with his ‘user name’ on abused victims,” Paul said.

The charges were brought by the Department, NZ Police and NZ Customs after separate investigations. They included making an intimate visual recording involving the six-year-old NZ girl. Police investigations resulted in 17 children rescued and 11 adults arrested and charged in various countries.

Internal Affairs’ Community Safety Manager, Steve O’Brien, said this case demonstrated clearly that these crimes were not victimless and that the Department has the expertise to uncover them.

“We are committed to international efforts to help prevent the abuse of children and our inspectors are very active in tracking down collectors,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The crimes involve real children forced into degrading acts. It is important for our community to remember that. The children who are featured in objectionable images are themselves victims, coerced into participating in photographs and films by sick and dangerous people.

“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.”

Ends

Media contact:

Trevor Henry, senior communications adviser, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 7211; cell 021 245 8642