Computer worker admits child porn charges

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 11:00 14/01/2014

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A 51-year-old Christchurch computer support worker has admitted having 20,000 objectionable files depicting child pornography on his computer.

Michael Keith Barrett pleaded guilty to two objectionable publications charges in the Christchurch District Court today.

Police said he had been sharing the files online through a peer-to-peer system that allowed users to access each other's folders.

His activities were detected by the Online Child Exploitation Unit (OCEANZ), based at Police National Headquarters in Wellington.

At the request of the defence, the summary of facts was not read out at the court session before Judge David Saunders, but the details were not suppressed.

Police said an OCEANZ officer logged onto the file-sharing programme under an assumed profile at the same time as Barrett and saw he had numerous files available for other users to browse and download.

The officer downloaded seven picture files which showed naked children involved in sexualised posing with their genitalia exposed.

A search warrant was then executed on Barrett's home and his desktop computer was seized. A further 35 similar images of naked children in sexualised poses or involved in sex acts were then found.

The police summary states: "The search of the defendant's desktop computer further revealed about 45,000 files and folders in the file sharing programme, 13,000 of which by their title may be classified as being objectionable publications because they depict child sexual exploitation material."

The police could not access the files and folders because of an encrypted password.

Barrett admitted to police that he had over 20,000 objectionable images stored on his computer for the file sharing system, which he had shared with other people around the world.

"He said he preferred to look at images involving naked girls about the age of 10 years," the police said.

Judge Saunders remanded Barrett on continued bail to March 5, for a probation report and sentence.

He asked for a report on Barrett's suitability for home or community detention but emphasised he was not saying that would be the outcome.

In line with sentencing trends, he asked for probation to assess whether rehabilitation was needed, which could be carried out in the community.

"The starting point for this type of offending is a term of imprisonment, but if the sentence is within a short (two year or less) term of imprisonment, home and community detention can be looked at," said the judge.

Police are asking for the destruction of the computer gear and files seized from Barrett.

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