Child porn collector helps further arrests

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 08:57 06/03/2014

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Information from a Christchurch man who saved 20,000 child pornography images has led to further arrests.

The 51-year-old computer support worker, Michael Keith Barrett, has been given a seven-month home detention sentence. His wife attended the Christchurch District Court sentencing session with him.

Judge Raoul Neave ordered the destruction of the files and computer equipment and imposed an additional six months of special conditions on Barrett. He has been assessed as suitable for a Stop programme for sex offenders, once funding can be arranged.

Barrett pleaded guilty to two representative charges of possessing objectionable images for the purposes of distribution. One charge referred to a pre-pubescent girl posing naked, and the other refers to children performing a sex act.

Barrett was caught when an officer of the Online Child Exploitation Unit (OCEANZ) logged on to a file-sharing programme under an assumed name at the same time as Barrett and saw that he had numerous files available to other users to browse and download.

Defence counsel Gerard Thwaites said Barrett had made full and frank confessions during three interviews with the police, and had been "as co-operative as he could be".

The police found 45,000 files and folders on his computer and estimated that 13,000 of them were objectionable from their titles. 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.

Although Barrett gave the police what he said were the passwords, the police were not able to get access to some files, and complained about that at the sentencing.

The hearing was stopped for more discussions, and then Judge Neave said the police were unable to be sure whether the difficulty was "lack of frankness" by Barrett or some other undiagnosed problem.

Thwaites said he had advised Barrett to assist the police all he could. The investigation had led to other arrests in the North Island.

Judge Neave told Barrett: "Your assistance has ensured that other people have also been apprehended."

He said Barrett had realised later the effects of his offending on the children involved.

"It speaks for itself that the effects of this behaviour has to be devastating," said the judge.

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- The Press

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