Internal Affairs nabs a Net porn offender every 3-5 days

An Auckland sickness beneficiary is not, as widely reported, the first New Zealander sentenced to prison for obtaining child pornography over the Internet.

The Department of Internal Affairs says an Auckland sickness beneficiary is not, as widely reported, the first New Zealander sentenced to prison for obtaining child pornography over the Internet.

In a statement yesterday the department said its inspectors had successfully prosecuted 49 similar cases involving the distribution and possession of objectionable material via the Internet since 1997.

In 1997 David Overend was imprisoned for 21 months for making and distributing objectionable material and in 1998 Dustin Arthur Barrett, of Christchurch was sentenced to a year in prison on similar charges.

Manager of the Internal Affairs Censorship Compliance Unit , Steve O'Brien, says the unit catches a New Zealand offender every three to five days. There are currently 40 cases pending.

"Our Unit is unusual in that it pro-actively pursues offenders rather that acting on tip-offs or on information gained during other inquiries. We work closely with overseas enforcement agencies and have already provided over 100 suspects for their further investigation," says O'Brien.

Most successfully prosecuted offenders receive large fines and suffer forfeiture of their computers and periodic detention.

"The scary thing is that despite the publicity surrounding cases offenders are still willing to risk prosecution by trading this type of material," O'Brien says.

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