WARNING: This story contains descriptions and language associated with child sex offending.
A man who tried to buy a child on the dark web to sexually abuse, under the username Kiwipedo, and possessed more than 400 objectionable images has been jailed.
Aaron Joseph Hutton, 36, was this morning sentenced to five years' imprisonment by Judge Allan Roberts.
A warrant for Hutton's arrest was issued shortly before the sentencing could begin as he was late to show in court.
When he entered the court he was immediately, albeit very briefly, taken into the court cells before emerging in the dock where he motioned dusting off his hands and suit.
Hutton pleaded guilty to two charges after the Crown had offered evidence in his Auckland District Court trial last year.
The admitted lead charge was that between January 13, 2015, and February 20, 2015, he had attempted to enter into a deal involving a person under 18 for sexual exploitation.
Hutton had in fact been speaking to undercover law enforcement and a meeting never eventuated.
Investigators instead used a tracing tool to find the relevant computer in an Auckland workplace in mid-2015, where they executed a search warrant.
The Herald and other media are prevented from revealing exactly how Hutton - the man behind the name Kiwipedo - was caught because of strict suppression orders.
At trial, the court heard Hutton was willing to pay in cash up to $15,000 or in bitcoin for a child under 7.
Crown prosecutor Sam McMullan said after the guilty pleas were entered Hutton seemed to claim it was all some sort of joke.
Hutton claimed he knew he was dealing with law enforcement in "a game of cat and mouse" but that was "not born out on the evidence".
Rather, the defendant was simply trying to distance himself "from the very serious offending he committed".
McMullan said three aggravating features of the case were the premeditation, the vulnerability of the intended victim and the extent of offending he intended to commit.
The Crown prosecutor said descriptions of the objectionable material made for "difficult reading".
Hutton pleaded guilty during the trial therefore he was simply not entitled to a discount, McMullan said.
"The Crown's case was looking pretty good at that point," he said.
A defence lawyer acting on Hutton's behalf said the offending was limited to an attempt, no meeting occurred and no payment exchanged hands.
Judge Roberts presided over the trial for just over three days.
"I was having difficulty identifying what possible defence you could advance," the judge said.
"You were entitled to take the matter to trial and you did."
The judge's point he said was this: "The plea came at a very late stage."
Judge Roberts addressed Hutton's claim that he aimed to waste police time and was never going to commit the crime.
"I can only say all of these self-serving statements are nonsense."
The judge said Hutton intended to buy a child and literally detain her for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
"Your intended victim was 3. She was to become a sex slave."
Judge Roberts said he agreed with the Crown that the correct start point for sentencing on the lead charge was four and a half years' imprisonment.
An uplift of six months was applied for the possession of 417 objectionable images.
This resulted in an end sentence of five years' imprisonment.
The manager of the Department of Internal Affairs Digital Child Exploitation Team welcomed the end of the case, calling it a "successful joint operation" with New Zealand Police.
"DIA, Customs, and Police continue to work tirelessly together to investigate individuals trading in child sexual exploitation material," Tim Houston said.
Authorities were acutely aware people that consume and distribute child sexual exploitation material present significant risks to children in the offline world, Houston said.
"Child sexual exploitation and abuse material depicts a crime scene, and the worst moment in a child's life, he said.
"Stopping the distribution of this type of material is critical because every time this material is shared, the children involved in this crime are re‐victimised."
Detective Sergeant Corey Brown, from the Waitematā Police, called it a prolonged and detailed investigation.
Investigative techniques to target those individuals offending online were constantly evolving, he said.
"We hope today's sentencing serves as a warning to other offenders preying on children online and distributing child exploitation material that it is only a matter of time before you are caught and prosecuted."