Paedophile ring details released

Details of a paedophile ring and a six-month investigation to shut it down have been released.

Customs, police and Department of Internal Affairs officials, at a press conference today, discussed Operation Hyper, which was launched after a search warrant was executed at an Auckland man's home last June.

Police found evidence of a child sexual abuse network, implicating six offenders and stretching as far as Britain, and the multi-agency operation began.

As a result of inquiries, four children were rescued, including a 6-year-old victim in Britain.

Police said the New Zealand children involved did not appear to have been abused.

Two Englishmen are awaiting sentence for their roles.

The group shared about 50 images and videos of children being sexually assaulted.

Of the four New Zealanders alleged to be involved, a 41-year-old Auckland man will be sentenced in March, while another Aucklander and a Northland man will probably be charged soon.

The only man to have been sentenced is Gary Ronald Barnes, 53, of Levin.

He was jailed for two years and five months after pleading guilty to 25 counts of possessing an objectionable publication.

He had two similar convictions in the past 10 years.

Customs' Tim Houston, who led Operation Hyper, said the timing of the search warrants was crucial.

New Zealand agencies liaised with colleagues overseas to ensure arrests were made simultaneously so evidence was preserved.

Houston said the investigation was continuing.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael, head of the police Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand unit, said the country's approach to fighting such offending was often used as a template by other countries.

Informal links with agencies in countries such as Russia, Australia and the United States were a key aspect of weeding out paedophiles around the world, he said.

The Dominion Post