Paedophile jailed for 'ugly offence'

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2014

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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. He was jailed for two years and nine months.

In the New Plymouth District Court on Tuesday 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 Bettridge's computer files much was found to be objectionable and involved the sexual abuse of children.

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

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

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," he said.

"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.

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

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- Taranaki Daily News

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