An American victim of child sex abuse was identified and helped thanks to a New Zealand Internal Affairs inspector who found her image in a trove of material on a Kiwi barman's phone, and further police investigations resulted in 17 children rescued and 11 adults arrested and charged in various countries.
Hanmer Springs barman Drew Webb was sentenced at Christchurch District Court to six years in prison yesterday, after he was caught with child porn.
Webb was sentenced after being convicted of 47 different child sex charges involving making, distributing, importing and possessing objectionable child sex abuse photos and videos.
The detective work by a Christchurch-based Internal Affairs inspector also led to the identification of a six-year-old American girl and the man who had been sexually abusing her within four days.
Inspector Paul Duke seized Webb's laptop and phone in August 2014 after an online video chat website reported Webb's activities to the department.
"From what was on his phone and from what Webb told me I found a Facebook account of the American abuser and established his likely address using Google Earth street view," Insp Duke said.
"I also sent pictures of the girl and her offender to Houston Police and they found her when they visited the local school."
Other images recovered from the phone led to the identification of a six-year-old New Zealand girl featured in a video recorded by Webb.
Insp Duke said in his 20 years of investigating crimes of this nature, this case stands well above the rest.
"Webb came closest to being involved in the actual abuse of children by pretending he had access to a child and encouraging others to send him pictures with his 'user name' on abused victims," Inspector Duke said.
Internal Affairs community safety manager Steve O'Brien said this case demonstrated clearly these crimes are not victimless.
"We are committed to international efforts to help prevent the abuse of children and our inspectors are very active in tracking down collectors," Mr O'Brien said.
"The crimes involve real children forced into degrading acts. It is important for our community to remember that. The children who are featured in objectionable images are themselves victims, coerced into participating in photographs and films by sick and dangerous people.
"Trading or viewing these images is not passive offending because it condones the abuse children suffer. People who look at this pass it on and use it, encourage those who actually photograph the children."