A registered child sex offender who put a mobile phone up the skirt of a shopper in a Rotorua store will spend 18 months behind bars.

Electrician John Andrew Parahi, 56, appeared in the Rotorua District Court this morning before Judge Paul Mabey QC.

He pleaded guilty to four charges in May, including doing an indecent act, attempting to make a visual recording of another person, being a registered offender and failing to comply with reporting obligations by not reporting a new cellphone number and breaching extended supervision orders.

The summary of facts said on March 3, a woman aged over 16 who wasn't known to Parahi, was in a Rotorua department store when he followed her for 10 minutes.

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As she walked down one of the aisles she saw Parahi behind her and noticed he pulled out a mobile phone from his pocket, the summary said.

She then stopped at a display of paintbrushes and other items and was unaware Parahi had kneeled down behind her, grabbed the back of her dress and pulled it slowly towards him.

He then put the mobile phone under the dress and directed his phone up with the intention of taking a photograph.

The woman realised what happened and pulled away, and as she did Parahi released her dress from his grip.

Judge Mabey told Parahi his victim had felt "dirty" since the incident.

Judge Paul Mabey QC. Photo / File
Judge Paul Mabey QC. Photo / File

"You have been in prison for offending in 2015, 2011, 2005, 2003 and on occasions prior to that ... You are driven by impulses which afflict you and make your risk of reoffending high."

Mabey used a sentencing starting point of 24 months imprisonment for the indecent act, and six months for all the other offences, to be served concurrently.

He then reduced the sentence by 25 per cent for Parahi's guilty plea.

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Parahi kept his head raised but his eyes downcast as he was sentenced and made a kiss gesture to his whānau in the public gallery before he left the court in custody.