WARNING: This story contains descriptions of child exploitation and abuse and may be upsetting.
Two Auckland men accused of having more than 20 hours of extreme child exploitation footage — described by a source as some of the most sickening that law enforcement in New Zealand has ever seen — have been ordered to serve time in prison.
Housemates Murray Richard Pengelly and Colin Kenneth Bradley, a well-known dog breeder, were arrested in December 2019 after a tip-off to police that led to a search of their home. More than 750 video files were discovered.
The men, both in their 60s, pleaded guilty nearly a year ago to one count of possession of methamphetamine and multiple counts of possession of objectionable material with knowledge it was illegal.
During their sentencing hearing at the Manukau District Court today, Judge Tini Clark ordered Pengelly to serve a prison sentence of two years and eight months and Bradley to serve 25 and a half months.
A source previously told the Herald the material found at the pair's home was among the worst ever found in New Zealand.
"The brutality is next level," the person said.
Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes described the material during the sentencing hearing as "a curated, extensive collection" that included 280 videos deemed the worst possible under the law. They included images of sadism, torture, infant victims and, in one video, the death of a child. There were many more hours of adult bestiality videos, he said.
"This is approaching the most serious of cases in terms of possession alone," Rhodes said. "It's difficult to imagine more serious things."
The Herald has chosen not to publish detailed and specific descriptions of much of the content because of its extremely graphic nature.
According to the Summary of Facts read aloud in court, Bradley admitted to possessing bestiality pornography and both men admitted to watching it on a shared laptop. Bradley also told police there was child exploitation material at the home but claimed "someone he could no longer remember" left it there.
Pengelly told police he never downloaded child exploitation material, according to the summary.
"When challenged on where it came from, he states that he doesn't know."
The prosecution argued the levels of remorse and acceptance of responsibility among the men was "at the lowest level if not non-existent".
The judge agreed the men seemed to minimise their involvement.
"This material is seriously disturbing in nature," she said, adding later in the hearing that although no victims sat in the Manukau District courtroom, the material causes "grievous harm to children and animals" that is "irreparable and ongoing".
No photos allowed
The Herald and Stuff had applied to Judge Clark to take photos of the pair during the sentencing hearing, citing the media's duty to be the eyes and ears for the public in courtroom settings. Defense counsel for the two men argued against it.
"The simple point is..they've suffered enough at the hands of the media," Pengelly's lawyer, David Dickinson, argued.
The judge eventually denied the photography request, pointing to threats made to the men following previous media coverage of the case, including "venomous" comments on the Herald's Facebook page and several instances of people showing up at their home.
"In my view, the publication of photographs will simply add fuel to the fire," Judge Clark ruled, adding that the media's duty to the public "cannot be at all costs".
Both defendants wore face masks at the start of the day, before the judge issued her decision regarding photos. The men took the face masks off soon after photos were banned.
Lawyer Annabel Cresswell, who represented Bradley, and Dickinson also argued that incidents of people showing up at their clients' house following previous media coverage of the case should be mitigating factors that result in a shorter sentence.
"The defendants have been ostracised from the community," Cresswell said, adding that they now live in fear. "They've already faced vigilante justice, which in my submission means there's less for the courts to do."
Dickinson said his client no longer goes outside, has had his car damaged and has since needed to pay for 24-hour security at his home.
"He's been given the roughest justice possible and he's suffered," he said.
But Judge Clark declined to take the matter into consideration when deciding the sentence, saying that the denial of the photo request already addressed the matter as far as the court was concerned.
HOW TO REPORT ONLINE CHILD ABUSE
• New Zealand Police have a specialist team working to protect children from online child abuse: the Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (OCEANZ) team.
• OCEANZ liaise directly with anyone who reports online child abuse. They will provide advice about what you need to do and how police will investigate your complaint.
• If you know of anyone with child exploitation material or you have concerns about online child abuse - you should make an online report directly to OCEANZ.
• Online child abuse is defined as "any kind of abuse of a child that happens on the internet".
• You can also make a report by phoning or visiting your local police station. CLICK HERE FOR A DIRECTORY.