A Hastings man has plead guilty today to a series of child sex offences which are believed to be some of the worst in New Zealand after police across the country smashed an alleged paedophile ring, saving four children from further abuse and making 35 referrals to overseas jurisdictions.
Aaron John Ellmers, 40, plead guilty to about 60 charges at the Hastings District Court today including sexual violation, making an intimate visual recording, dealing in people for exploitation and possessing objectionable material.
Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said it was at the ``absolute highest end'' of child sexual offending in the country, and successfully argued for sentencing to be moved to the High Court.
Ellmers also had a previous conviction for similar offending in Australia, the court heard.
He will be sentenced at the Napier High Court in May.
Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael, head of OCEANZ, part of the National Criminal Investigations Group, says a Police operation began in July last year involving staff across the country including Northland, Auckland City, Eastern, Canterbury and Southern Districts.
The operation targeted paedophiles both in New Zealand and overseas.
Two other New Zealand men, one in Canterbury and the other in Auckland, are also before the Courts facing various charges including sexual violation of children and making, possessing and distributing child abuse images.
D/S/S John Michael says as a result of the Police operation, four New Zealand children, ranging in age from 13 months to 13 years have been saved from further abuse. Police have also made 35 referrals to a number of Virtual Global Taskforce members including Australia, the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada.
"This offending is like a spider web which has got wider and wider, involving offenders both here and overseas. Those facing charges have allegedly abused children, recorded that abuse and distributed it amongst themselves and overseas."
Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Greig, head of the Eastern District Child Protection Team says the Hawke's Bay-based investigators are grateful for today's guilty pleas, which will spare a number of very young victims and their families the indignity and trauma of the trial process.
D/S/S Greig is praising the work of OCEANZ staff, who had become aware of the offending initially.
"OCEANZ then collaborated with our District and our local staff assigned to this case have worked extremely hard over a number of months to identify the victims of this man's offending and fully investigate the extent of it."
He says this inquiry has presented significant challenges for local staff.
"None of us have been left untouched by the nature and depravity of this man's offending which has wreaked havoc on so many lives. It is heartening to know that the children involved have been saved from further offending and can now start to receive the support they need to put their lives back together."