Man jailed over child abuse images

Last updated 16:48 08/02/2013

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An Auckland man has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for importing and possessing 14,000 images and 700 movies depicting the sexual abuse of children aged between one and 14.

Michael Ransfield, 58, appeared in the Manukau Distict Court yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to 10 charges of importing objectionable publications, and 30 charges of possessing objectionable publications.

In 2011, Customs received information that a US-hosted website, which appeared to offer online access to images depicting child sexual abuse, had been accessed by a New Zealander. 

Further investigations by Customs identified Ransfield, leading to a search warrant of his residence where he was questioned and arrested.

Forensic examination of his electronic devices revealed the 14,000 images and 700 movie files that had been downloaded over a period of four years, with the last download occurring only hours before Customs executed the search warrant. 

During sentencing, Judge Anna Johns said some of the children depicted in the images had suffered "horrific sexual abuse". She said this exploitation was perpetuated as the images and videos were spread on the internet.

There was a strong need to deter and denounce this kind of offending, and only a sentence of imprisonment was appropriate in this case, she said.

Chris Howley, Customs acting group manager investigations and response, said he was pleased with the sentencing result.

"The online and border movement of child sexual abuse material is a grim reality. Customs places high priority on this type of offending and we vigorously investigate and prosecute individuals involved in importing, exporting, possessing, and trading child objectionable material.

"The Ransfield case is a good example of the local and international relationships Customs has with other agencies also committed to combating the online trading of child sexual abuse material."

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