Man's conviction for photographing bikini-clad girls quashed

The incident happened at Kaiteriteri Beach in Golden Bay.
The incident happened at Kaiteriteri Beach in Golden Bay. Photo credit: Facebook/ Wilsons Abel Tasman

A man who admitted taking photos of young bikini-clad girls at Kaiteriteri Beach has had his conviction quashed by the Supreme Court.

Graham Thomas Rowe was found by an off-duty police officer on the morning of January 23, 2016, taking photographs of three teenage girls in their swimwear on Kaiteriteri Beach in Tasman.

The officer, Sergeant Daniel Isherwood, said Mr Rowe was crouching by his campervan with his camera zoom fully extended towards the girls, who were about 30 metres away and aged between 12 and 15 years old.

The officer confronted Mr Rowe, who was 61 at the time, who admitted taking photos of the girls, but he claimed there was nothing wrong with his actions.

Mr Rowe was found guilty by jury in January last year in the Nelson District Court of doing an indecent act with intent to insult and sentenced to 120 hours of community work and six months of supervision.

He appealed his conviction in the Court of Appeal but this was dismissed.

On Thursday the Supreme Court allowed the appeal, quashing Mr Rowe's conviction and making no order for a retrial.

The Supreme Court found the section of the Crimes Act Mr Rowe was convicted under, Section 126, was aimed only at exhibitionist conduct - defined as intended by a defendant to be seen by someone and to result in that person being insulted of offended.

The Supreme Court found Mr Rowe's behaviour wasn't exhibitionist and the photographs themselves were not "intrinsically indecent".

Mr Rowe was arrested after he agreed to show Sergeant Isherwood the photos he'd taken, which were downloaded on three devices in his campervan.

Sergeant Isherwood, who was on holiday at the time, noticed the photographs were on a device in a folder marked as "girls", which contained numerous images of pre-teen and teenage girls, all of which appeared to have been taken without their knowledge.

Mr Rowe's camera was seized by the officer, who phoned Nelson police from a nearby cafe.

In its judgement allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court also found Mr Rowe had no intention of distributing the images or of using them to offend anyone.