Customs Investigation Sends Waikato Man Behind Bars

A Waikato man has been jailed for three years, following conviction on 11 charges of possessing, exporting and making child sexual abuse material following a Customs investigation.

The 36-year-old appeared in the Hamilton District Court today.

Customs received a referral from the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that a New Zealander had allegedly distributed objectionable materials to six social media platforms.

After identifying the defendant’s home address in the Waipa District of the Waikato, Customs conducted a search warrant on 16 May 2023. Three devices linked to the man’s social media accounts were examined and found to contain child sexual abuse materials. He was arrested on site.

Further examination of these devices by Customs forensics experts uncovered more child sexual abuse material which had been viewed, stored and distributed. There was also evidence the man was screen-recording the objectionable material he was viewing on social media.

Several of these screen-records were of one female child, who was 10-years-old at the time the materials were created. Customs investigators identified the child as living in the United States and referred the case to local Kentucky authorities, who were able to safeguard the girl several days later in June 2023.

Chief Customs Officer – Child Exploitation Operations Team, Simon Peterson, welcomed today’s sentencing outcome stating that not only was this man viewing the extreme sexual abuse of young girls, by screen-recording the videos and images he was promoting child sexual exploitation and re-victimisation.

“This is not a victimless crime. Real children are abused in making of this type of material, which often will remain online forever. In this case, Customs was able to help safeguard one of those victims in the United States. We operate as part of a global taskforce and our top priority is always to try to identify and protect or safeguard any victims, wherever they are in the world,” Mr Peterson says.

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. 

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