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Rotorua man jailed following Customs investigation

04.06pm 14 August 2023 | News

A 37-year-old Rotorua man has been sentenced to three years and seven months’ imprisonment at Rotorua District Court today for possessing and exporting videos depicting child sexual abuse.

Chief Customs Officer - Child Exploitation Operations Team, Simon Peterson, welcomed the result, saying a thorough investigation has paid dividends.

“This strength of evidence provided by Customs investigators played a significant role in this sentencing result, following a referral by the US-based National Centre of Missing and Exploited Children. This man now faces prison time for his crimes.”

Customs conducted a search warrant on the man's home address in Rotorua in March 2021, after an IP address was found to be uploading child sexual exploitation videos to an overseas-based social media platform.  

"During the search warrant, our investigators located a mobile phone linked to the social media account and arrested the man on site. They also took an SD card and three further mobile phones for electronic forensic analysis," Mr Peterson said.

“This confirmed the man had been in possession of 143 videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, some of which were of the most extreme category of abuse. The impact of this abuse can be devastating and have a profound, lifelong effect on the victims.

“Online child sexual exploitation represents a serious and growing form of violence against children worldwide. Customs combats this type of crime as a priority, but we can’t do it alone. Close cooperation with our local partners including Police, Department of Internal Affairs and international agencies is critical in preventing and disrupting this horrendous crime.”

Any publication that promotes or supports the exploitation of children for sexual purposes is deemed an objectionable publication under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

Objectionable publications are also prohibited from import or export under the Customs and Excise Act 2018. These charges carry a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment.

If you have concerns or suspicions about someone who may be trading in or producing child sexual abuse images or videos, contact Customs confidentially on 0800 WE PROTECT (0800 937 768) or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you are, or know of, someone who is at risk or being abused, contact the Police immediately.