Journalist admits child abuse charges
A Christchurch Christian journalist has admitted making intimate videos of a student at home and a 5-year-old girl at a church expo.
John Raymond McNeil, 67, was granted home detention at his Christchurch District Court sentencing, but his internet access will be blocked as part of the sentence.
He was found with 1000 child-pornography images on his computer, which he had viewed on the internet, and three videos he had made.
He had admitted three charges of making intimate visual recordings and 40 charges of possessing objectionable publications - images and stories.
One video showed a student at her home, one was videoed up the skirt of a 5-year-old girl at a church expo and the third was taken up the skirt of an unidentified young woman walking in the Halswell Quarry.
McNeil is well known in his community, and the court was told that people now knew of his offending.
He is described as a veteran newspaper and radio journalist and former South Island editor of Challenge Weekly, a non-denominational and independent Christian newspaper.
Defence counsel Craig Ruane said McNeil had begun a Stop programme for sex offenders to address the issues that led to his offending.
A suitable address had been found for him to serve a home-detention sentence, an issue that had led to sentencing being delayed in December.
He said McNeil would be able to continue with his work on computers, without having internet access.
Judge Raoul Neave said the images showed young girls and pre-pubescent teenagers displaying themselves in sexually explicit ways.
The stories were explicit about sexual relationships involving children or pre-pubescent teenagers, but they were not accompanied by images.
That offending was seriously aggravated by the intimate videos McNeil had made.
The judge said the offending had not quite destroyed McNeil's life, but had created significant havoc.
It was essential that he underwent the Stop programme. He was motivated to deal with his problems and with treatment his risk of reoffending was greatly reduced.
"You have a realistic understanding of the role you have played in promoting child abuse, effectively by being one of those persons who is the market. Without a market, people would not create the images," the judge said.
It was serious offending and a deterrent sentence was required. Part of the penalty was the public humiliation and shame he had brought on himself and his family.
He sentenced McNeil to seven months' home detention with special conditions and 200 hours of community work.
At the request of the police, destruction of three computer hard drives was ordered.
* This story has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly referred to McNeil as the South Island editor of Challenge Weekly. He is a former South Island editor, having resigned from the position in 2009.