A young mum solo mum who was jailed for sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl has been denied bail pending a challenge to the Court of Appeal.

Monika Rachael Kelly, 21, was sentenced earlier this month in the High Court at Auckland by Justice Mathew Downs to two-and-a-half years' imprisonment.

Her lawyer, Ron Mansfield, told the Herald afterwards he was "disappointed" with the outcome and would appeal his client's sentence in a bid for home detention.

He also sought bail for Kelly pending the appeal, which will be heard in February.


However, today, Justice Murray Gilbert denied the application - meaning Kelly will remain in custody.

Mansfield argues a sentence of home detention should have been imposed because his client, who was 19 at the time of the offending and had sole care of her 1-year-old son, was motivated by dire financial circumstances.

Kelly, who pleaded guilty to dealing in people under 18 for sexual exploitation, had been operating an illegitimate prostitution service using the 14-year-old girl for cash.

The teen had run away from home and her life at the time was described at sentencing as "messy" by Justice Downs.

After meeting via a mutual friend she lived with Kelly for six weeks, but was taken out of Kelly's care for a period due to concerns by Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children, the court heard.

Crown prosecutor Ben Finn sought imprisonment at sentencing, but accepted there was no coercion. Kelly also shared the proceeds from the offending, about $1000, with the teen for living expenses.

But Justice Downs told Kelly even if he had reached an end sentence of less than two years - thus allowing home detention - he would still have sent her to prison.

"The victim was vulnerable, you knew that, you knew that the victim was young. To be more specific, you knew she was 14 for most of your offending," the judge said.


After her arrest, Kelly also told a clinical psychologist she thought the victim was over 16 but under 18.

"I am sure you knew her real age after the first incident," Justice Downs said.

"I am not persuaded you are genuinely remorseful."

In Justice Gilbert's decision today he said Kelly had a "significantly disadvantaged upbringing characterised by physical and mental abuse" but now enjoys the support of her immediate family.

"She has good prospects for rehabilitation," he said.

"Mr Mansfield stresses the likely harm to Ms Kelly's now 3-year-old son as a result of her incarceration."

But the judge said Kelly did not have sole care of her son at the time of sentencing and there is no indication he will not be adequately cared for by Kelly's father while she is in prison.

The appeal grounds, Justice Gilbert added, were "arguable, but not compelling".

Justice Mathew Downs said:
Justice Mathew Downs said: "In reality it's difficult to imagine a worse case than [Kasmeer] Lata." Photo / Jason Oxenham

The victim, now 16, said in a statement that Kelly "took her in during a challenging time in her life and [was] exploiting her".

Justice Downs said Kelly "facilitated the victim's continued exploitation".

The Herald has revealed several other cases involving teenagers being exploited for sexual services this year, including one involving the "most despised woman in New Zealand".

In April, the Herald revealed the case of Kasmeer Lata - just the third conviction for slave trading in the country's legal history.

She was jailed for six years and 11 months for keeping her daughter as a sex slave, turning her Auckland home into a brothel, and selling the then 15-year-old to men about 1000 times over a two-year period.

On appeal by the Crown, Lata's sentence was increased to 10 years and three months' imprisonment only yesterday.

When sentencing Kelly, Justice Downs said: "In reality it's difficult to imagine a worse case than Lata."