Auckland professional caught with 6000 objectionable images
An Auckland professional caught with thousands of images of child sex abuse has escaped a jail sentence after threatening suicide.
The 50-year-old man also received permanent name suppression after appearing for sentencing at the Auckland District Court on Wednesday, the orders so far ranging that the nature of his work also cannot be revealed.
Despite counsel for the Department of Internal Affairs asking for a jail sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offence and its aggravating features, Judge Philippa Cunningham took seriously the man's threats in recent weeks to commit suicide.
He had gone so far as to check whether his life insurance policy covered suicide so that his family, particularly his teenage children, wouldn't suffer financially in the wake of his death, Judge Cunningham said.
The man earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of possessing objectionable material.
According to a summary of facts the man had compiled a significant catalogue of child abuse images on his personal computer, numbering 6063 videos and still images, collected over a two year period.
So appalling was the nature of the abuse that Judge Cunningham told the court she had decided not to view the images, and had simply taken at face value a description of the contents.
The images were discovered during an acrimonious split with the man's now ex-wife. She had taken the computer and had it forensically examined because she wanted information about his finances, but the images were discovered instead.
Immediately after they were found he sought help and had been having intensive therapy ever since, the defendant's lawyer Peter Winter said.
Although prosecutors advocated for a custodial sentence, Winter argued that a sentence of home detention was more appropriate so that he could continue his rehabilitation.
Testimony from the man's psychologist said the man had an intense fear of being sent to prison, and was fearful of his safety should he be incarcerated.
He had developed depression as a result and in recent weeks had expressed suicidal ideation, Winter said.
Judge Cunningham agreed the man had taken significant steps to address his offending and had expressed ongoing remorse and understanding of his behaviour, which was said to be the result of an obsessive compulsive disorder.
He had been open with his friends, family and employer about his conviction, and his workplace had agreed to continue his employment if the court allowed it.
Judge Cunningham sentenced him to seven months home detention and 100 hours community work, suggesting that he make a donation to an organisation dedicated to stopping child exploitation, as a token of his remorse.
The conditions of his detention prevented him from spending time alone with people under the age of 16, and from using a device that could access the internet.
Judge Cunningham also imposed permanent name suppression, including details of the man's job, to not only protect him but his children.
"Every new day is going to be a better day," she told the man as he left court.