A West Coast man was sentenced to eight months' home detention when he admitted possessing child sex abuse pictures, including some of babies.

Stephen Marshall Neill, 27, unemployed, had earlier pleaded guilty to possessing objectionable publications, 250 computer image files depicting the sexual abuse of children aged about six months though to early teenage years.

An Internal Affairs inspector tracked Neill to a West Coast address after a tipoff from Microsoft Hotmail and the United States' National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Cellphones, a laptop computer, digital cameras, CDs and DVDs were seized.


In the Greymouth District Court yesterday, Judge Garry MacAskill refused Neill's application for name suppression.

Judge MacAskill said there was "no real or significant risk or vigilante threats".

However, the judge did suppress the identification of the town where Neill would serve his sentence of home detention.

Initially, Judge MacAskill said any sentence short of prison was "precluded by the seriousness of the offending", in starting with a sentence of 20 months in prison. That was reduced to 15 months due to Neill's guilty plea.

As the final sentence was shorter than two years, the judge said he could consider converting it to a community-based sentence, such as home detention.

He therefore converted the prison sentence to a spell of eight months' home detention.

During that time, Neill will be forbidden from using any electronic device which can store images or connect to the internet, and will not be allowed contact with anyone under 16 years of age.

He will also have to undergo any treatment deemed necessary as part of his sentence.

Internal Affairs community safety manager Steve O'Brien said there was a global community, including Internal Affairs, combating the child sexual abuse trade.

"It's only a matter of time before people indulging in this activity get caught," Mr O'Brien said.

"People, who think they're safe in the confines of their own home, indulging in viewing or distributing objectionable material on the internet, should think again. Downloading this material perpetuates this nasty industry by feeding a market that results in crimes being committed against young children."

- Greymouth Star