A prominent Northland environmentalist was sentenced to four months' community detention and 200 hours' community work after pleading guilty to charges of possessing objectionable material, including child pornography.
Appearing in the Dargaville and District Court yesterday, Stephen Tamatea King, 57, of Waipoua, was also sentenced on charges of dangerous driving and failing to stop for police.
King is   known for his conservation  work pertaining to Northland kauri forests, including work to create a national park in the area.
He was arrested last August after investigations by the Internal Affairs Department dating back to 2007. Payments to an international pornography site were discovered on two email addresses belonging to King.
In March 2008, department officers seized a computer and other digital storage devices from King's home.
 About 5000 picture images and 800 movie files were found. Many of the images were of girls in sexual  poses. Some showed sexual acts being performed. A small proportion of the movie files depicted baby and adult rapes and a child being sexually abused. Thirty charges were laid as representational of the objectionable material.
Last August, another 250 objectionable images were found on a second computer, leading to another four fresh charges being laid.
King, who made early guilty pleas, had been granted interim name suppression on three separate occasions out of concerns for the poor health of his elderly  mother.
In refusing permanent name suppression yesterday, Judge Simon Maude said knowledge of King's offending was already in the community and would  reach his mother sooner or later.
King became visibly upset when his defence lawyer Doug Blaikie spoke of the possible ramifications the news would have on his mother. The court heard King had a history of poor relationships and led an isolated and lonely life.  Mr Blaikie said pornography  was easily found on the web and easy to purchase with a credit card. Some had been sent to King as spam.
They were sold as erotica rather than porn and the purchaser was not in control of the selection sent. He said the site used stated all models were over  18.
"He had been co-operative ... and naively thought the department would come back and discuss the matter."
 
After his arrest, King voluntarily enrolled himself with a psychotherapist and now has an understanding of how  such images contributed to child abuse.
He has since made an $11,000 donation to World Vision. A senior probation officer's report says King does not have a paedophilia disposition and is not considered a public risk.
But prosecuting lawyer Phil Smith said there were a number of aggravating circumstances surrounding the case. "Some of the images are sickening, to put it mildly," he said.
"... I query if the prominent and influential people who have given character references would be so supportive if they saw even 10 of the images."
Mr Smith also questioned why King would have retained the second lot of images after having been caught the first time. Neither he nor the judge bought the explanation King was  testing himself. The prosecution sought 12 months' imprisonment or home detention with supervision.
King's six months' community detention was reduced to four months for the early plea. It attracts special conditions including two years' intense supervision. 
On the dangerous driving charge he was fined $1000 and disqualified from driving for six months. He was convicted and discharged for failing to stop.