Jail for paedophile

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 11:48 22/01/2014

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A convicted paedophile was sent to jail after accumulating thousands of photos and films of children being sexually abused and distributing some to others.

Paul Bettridge, 43, pleaded guilty to 30 charges of possessing and two of distributing objectionable images.

In the New Plymouth District Court yesterday it was revealed that Bettridge was first caught in mid-2012  by Department of Internal Affairs officers monitoring the internet.

They were aware that he constantly changed his electronic address.

On January 17 last year a search warrant was executed and his computer equipment seized and searched.

Bettridge said to the officers he was waiting for them to arrive.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Britton said of the 6000 sexually explicit images on Betridge's computer files much was found to be objectionable and involved the sexual abuse of children.

He called for a sentence of three years prison with an uplift for the numbers of charges and previous sexual assault convictions involving  children.

Bettridge's lawyer Turitea Bolstad said Bettridge took full responsibility from the outset and asked for full credit for his guilty plea and remorse.

He had suffered stress caused by the loss of his job and the death of his mother and was seeking assistance for himself.

Judge Allan Roberts described the images as "truly disturbing".

The children suffering perversions and degradations  in the images were aged from toddlers through to prepubescent girls.

Bettridge had been engaged in downloading the images since 2008 and had bookmarked child sex abuse sites for ease of access.

Bettridge was imprisoned in 1998 for  sexually assaulting a boy and girl under 12.

He had an unfortunate upbringing. He  underwent a special programme in prison for child sex offenders and had now reverted.

The judge accepted Bettridge, described as socially isolated,  was genuinely remorseful and was on medication to assist in controlling his urges.

One victim had been identified overseas.

"You were not only trawling the internet you were a distributor," the judge said.

"You remain a risk with an unhealthy interest in children" Judge Roberts said.

Bettridge received a two year, nine month jail sentence.

Internal Affairs manager of community safety, Steve O'Brien welcomed the custodial sentence.

"Bettridge is a significant offender and a period of imprisonment will ensure that he is unable to access or trade images of child sexual abuse.

"Images of child sexual abuse are the result of real children being sexually abused and expoited.

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"Those who distribute these images need to bear a direct responsibility for the original abuse as well as being responsible for encouraging more pictures being produced and more abuse of victims."

Some images were of children in explicit sexual acts with men.

"This is a degrading and ugly offence. It dehumanises innocent children, Mr O'Brien said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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