A Rotorua man is the first New Zealander to be jailed as part of an international child pornography sting.
Christopher David Harold Grant, 42, was sent to jail for three years on a number of charges that resulted from Operation Laminar. The international operation has been chalked up as a coup for New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs as it resulted in five arrests in this country and targeted 55 key suspects in 20 countries.
At least 12 abused children were rescued, one in New Zealand.
Stephen O'Brien, censorship enforcement manager for the department, said it was "a good sentence" and it was "very rare" to come across a New Zealander making child pornography.
"The internet has changed the dynamics on who these offenders are. In the old days you used to think of the person in the trench coat sneaking around. But now access is so quick. You think because you've closed your blinds and are looking at your computer that no one can see what you're doing. But as soon as people start going to these websites, putting themselves out in open forums, they can get caught. It's only a matter of time."
Grant, 42, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court on Friday after earlier pleading guilty to four charges of making child pornography, two charges of distributing it and 10 of possessing it as well as one charge of doing an indecent act on a child.
The offending happened between October 20, 2010, and May 12, 2011. On May 19 last year Internal Affairs officers working on Laminar seized his computer, finding objectionable images of children and young people. The indecent act charge related to undressing himself and a girl then using a webcam to take objectionable images.
In sentencing, Judge James Weir said he was concerned Grant showed little empathy for his victim.
"Your remorse is entangled with your own predicament rather than how your actions may have affected others," Judge Weir said.
A second man charged in operation Laminar is awaiting sentencing in the Tauranga District Court. Cameron Mark Dunn, 35, of Papamoa Beach has admitted possessing and distributing child pornography over three years. He used multiple identities on several websites and viewed images of babies and toddlers being sexually abused. Judge Patrick Treston requested a home detention report ahead of his July 10 sentencing.
O'Brien wouldn't comment on the other three charged as part of Laminar as they were still coming before the courts.
Staff working on Laminar had infiltrated internet groups and over a period of time built up a picture of serious offending in a variety of countries. They alerted Interpol and the co-ordinated international operation was launched.
"It is a global problem and we need a global solution to those types of problems and the amount of co-operation we got was fantastic."
Interpol's head of crimes against children, Mick Moran, praised the initiative, saying Laminar had helped disrupt an international network.
O'Brien said his team of 12 was focused on hunting out people possessing, distributing and making images of child sexual abuse.
"The material over the years, especially the last five years, has got worse and worse. They're pushing the boundaries," he said. "The average age of the children being offended against these days is 0-5.
"The main reason for that is the child can't tell. Can't speak. The material itself has got a lot more brutal."
- Additional reporting Rotorua Daily Post and Bay of Plenty TimesBy Kathryn Powley Email Kathryn