A man who was snared as part of an international child abuse imagery ring will find out tomorrow morning whether he will be jailed.
Michael Beer, 51, whose name suppression lapsed today, was prosecuted by the Department of Internal Affairs after being found with about 1700 "depraved" child sex abuse files on a computer, tablet, hard drive and his television.
He was originally charged with three counts of possessing objectionable material and 25 of distributing it but pleaded guilty when they were condensed to one representative charge of each. Beer was due to be sentenced at North Shore District Court today but the decision between jail and home detention was so finely balanced Judge Owen Hinton reserved his ruling until tomorrow.
The defendant was caught in the multi-agency investigation dubbed "Operation Hyper", which smashed an online child sexual abuse network between New Zealand and the UK, collaring six offenders.
Customs, Police and the DIA announced the sting at the start of last year that identified four children who had the potential to be harmed, and rescued a six-year-old victim in England.
Beer - the final New Zealand-based member of the ring to be sentenced - was supported in court by his two daughters, son in law and grandchild.
Defence counsel John Munro described NZME's application to photograph his client in court as "voyeuristic" and Judge Hinton declined the application because of the defendant's medical history and the efforts he had made to rehabilitate himself.
The offending took place between October 2012 and June 2013 during which time Beer was "a member of an online community" trading in a range of horrendous images and videos.
The court heard how he distributed six videos and 227 images - "some so depraved it's incredible", according to Judge Hinton.
Mr Munro said his client had self-referred to counselling services before he had even been charged and the therapy was ongoing.
He told the judge a sentence of home detention may isolate Beer - which was a factor that led to the offending - but it would allow him to continue his rehabilitative efforts.
However, Crown prosecutor Natalie Small said anything short of a prison term would be inappropriate.
"The important thing for those victims is their images still exist," she said.
She urged Judge Hinton to "send a strong message to anyone thinking about this type of offending".