Wellington child pornography offender discharged without conviction
A Wellington man who admitted to storing child pornography has escaped conviction.
The 40-year-old IT professional pleaded guilty to 47 charges of possessing child pornography in Wellington District Court but was discharged without conviction on Friday.
Judge Peter Butler said he "narrowly" decided in favour of the married father-of-two, who has permanent name suppression.
The man hung his head in the dock and wiped tears from his eyes as the details of his offending were read out.
His mother, father and wife supported him at the back of the courtroom.
The man's lawyer Mike Antunovic said the offending took place when images of children popped up while he was viewing porn on a Russian website.
"His excitement was to then grab it and save it and then he stored it in his collection never to be looked at again, as he might buy a whole lot of CDs and never listen to them."
"His is a truly exceptional case... at the lower end of the scale for offences of this kind," Antunovic said.
However Police prosecutor Lucette Kuhn opposed discharging the conviction, and said the behaviour was "serious offending".
"There are victims linked to this offending and they are children and they are being exploited. [The offending] creates the cycle of demand, it perpetuates the crime," she said.
Turning a blind eye to the gravity of the crime would be "alarming", she said.
In sentencing, Butler acknowledged police concern: the images stored had "some aspects of restraint and obvious sexual violation of children".
But the man had undertaken hours of therapy, immediately pleaded guilty, and had resigned from his job as a result. He was the main breadwinner in his family.
He'd already lost an employment bonus, and wouldn't be able to get another job with a child pornography conviction, he said.
"The defendant has the capacity to be a good husband and a father ... narrowly I decide this balancing in your favour," he said.
Speaking afterwards, the man warned others with pornography addictions to get help.
"I tried to stop and I failed. There is help out there."
"The internet problem is getting worse and worse and worse. The problem is it's so easy to find anything online, even if you're not looking."
His wife, who supported him in court and is mother to his two young children, said it seemed to be easier to find porn than to find help.
WellStop service and practice manager Caroline Burns said there was a "huge, growing" need in the community for programmes, education, support and therapy for people accessing child abuse material on the internet.
WellStop works with people such as the discharged offender to stop harmful sexual behaviour.
Anyone concerned about themselves or others looking at objectionable material should contact WellStop on 04 566 4745.