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Home detention follows child porn sting

Date: May 27, 2008

A German-based investigation into internet child pornography caught a Christchurch man accessing banned material.

James Alexander Sharpe, 20, was arrested after Interpol contacted New Zealand police.

He pleaded guilty to 10 representative charges of possessing indecent material and two of importing such material, and was sentenced to eight months home detention by Christchurch District Court Judge Colin Doherty.

The judge said Parliament had recently marked its abhorrence of this type of offence by increasing the maximum penalty to five years jail.

"It's clear from cases before the courts that all sorts of people do this. Many have never been before the courts before, like you," the judge told Sharpe.

Sharpe was found in possession of "tens of thousands" of objectionable images. Aggravating factors were the offending over a long time and the huge number of images found, each involving the exploitation of a young person.

It was to Sharpe's credit that he was remorseful.

"I note within days of your apprehension you engaged in seeking help," the judge said.

Sharpe needed constant monitoring, and special conditions would apply for 12 months after the end of the sentence.

Sharpe was ordered to do the Stop programme as directed by a probation officer and not to have contact with people under 16 unless under supervision of an approved adult. He was not to use electronic equipment that could access the internet.

Lawyer Jonathan Eaton said Sharpe's inappropriate use of the internet started when he was about 14. It stemmed from a lack of self-esteem.

Eaton said there was no suggestion Sharpe disseminated images.

He had a supportive partner and parents, had engaged in counselling, made full admissions and was remorseful.

Prosecutor Tim Mackenzie said about 28,000 images were found, most of them objectionable, and a starting point of jail for about two years or more was appropriate.

The judge said the consensus seemed to be that Sharpe had a serious problem, which Sharpe recognised.

Sharpe had been assessed as suitable for community or home detention, the judge said.

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