A Northland man who made himself a key character in a story he wrote about the abduction, rape and trafficking of a young girl before sharing it on social media has applied to the court to have computer storage devices seized by police returned.
During sentencing by Judge Keith de Ridder it was revealed that during a search of Paul Burton's Waipū home, police had found more than 39,000 images on two cellphones, a tablet and external hard drives showing children, mainly girls, engaged in sexual acts with men.
Burton, aged 62, pleaded guilty to charges of making an objectionable publication, distributing an objectionable publication and six representative charges of possessing objectionable material involving child sexual abuse and in January was sentenced to three years and nine months' jail.
Burton's electronic devices were seized by police. However, Burton appealed, saying not all his computer storage devices seized by police and subject to the forfeiture order contained objectionable publications.
Justice Brewer said since the appeal was filed, police had examined the computer storage media identified and found three of them contain objectionable images but one does not.
The "clean" device will be returned to Burton.
During his sentencing the court heard how Burton had written a story about the abduction, rape and sexual violation of a young female of primary school age. The story culminated in the trafficking of the girl to a gang for exploitation in the child sex trade.
The graphic story described how Burton and two other men were involved.
Burton then shared the story on Facebook but claimed to have messaged it to the wrong person. But, he made the comment to the recipient: "This is the type of story I sell online and there is some demand."
Following a tip, police searched Burton's home and seized a number of items that were forensically examined. More than 39,000 photos involving abuse of babies through to older children were discovered.
Burton disputed the number of images, saying there were duplications and he only had a few thousand images.
Defence lawyer Jarred Scott said Burton's attraction to people of a vastly different age was a mental health issue he had suffered for a very long time.
He had acknowledged his problem, sought counselling and had attended three sessions before he was arrested. Burton intended to continue seeking help for his issue while in jail and on his release.
Judge de Ridder said after reading a mental health report and another from ACC there was a clear link between Burton's troubled childhood and his behaviour and offending.