Man jailed for three years for organising sex tour

File photo / Rotorua Daily Post
File photo / Rotorua Daily Post

A man who organised an underage sex tour to Thailand has been jailed for three years.

The 47-year-old, who has name suppression, was found guilty in November of organising the tour after setting up a trip for a client, who was actually an undercover police officer.

The former real estate agent was also found not guilty of promoting the tour through a website.

He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment by Justice Edwin Wylie in the High Court at Auckland this morning.

He is the first person in New Zealand to be charged with organising and promoting child sex tours.

The man had told the undercover cop he could help him find Thai "boys'' as young as 13 to have sex with.

He booked flights and made hotel reservations for the trip before he was arrested.

During his trial the court was told he was initially reluctant to discuss sex with boys but later told the officer, who was wearing a wire: "I mean, the thing is, you know, like for instance, you could probably take a 13-, 14-year-old boy back to a hotel, but not every hotel.''

The man did not dispute creating the website, but his lawyer Chris Wilkinson-Smith said it was innocent and only for travel.

Mr Wilkinson-Smith said the undercover cop was the man's one and only customer in the three years the website had been operating.

In a police interview shortly before his arrest, the man said: "... firstly, he's offering me money to take him on the tour and I wanted the money. He's saying he wants something underage. I'm saying it's dangerous, but I wanted the money''.

Denise Ritchie from the Stop Demand Foundation said it was crucial that today's sentence both denounced the man's conduct and acted as a deterrent to others.

"Facilitating the sexual exploitation of vulnerable and impoverished children overseas is a despicable crime. Those caught can expect to be jailed,'' she said.

Ms Ritchie, who was a key petitioner for a 1995 law reform to honour New Zealand's international obligations to protect children abroad from sexual exploitation by New Zealand's travelling citizens, said she was satisfied with today's sentence, given the circumstances.

Stop Demand believed the case would have been watched carefully by global paedophile networks and online communities, of which the offender was a member.

The man has previous child sex convictions in Australia.

- APNZ

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