Auckland businessman Martin Henry Lawes jailed for four years for sexually exploiting children

Auckland businessman Martin Henry Lawes has been sentenced to four years and six months in prison for sexually exploiting children.

Justice Edwin Wylie said Lawes treated the children he sexually exploited "like toys".

He gave Lawes, 75, discounts for it being his first offence, his age, and his contribution to arrests in the Philippines leading to three children being saved from further exploitation.

Lawes also received discounts because of his "good character" in the past, evidenced in references, and his contribution to the community.

Since his arrest he donated $45,000 to two charities aimed at helping children who have been sexually exploited.

There was no discount for remorse because his attitude after his arrest was of "entitlement and self-justification", Justice Wylie said.

The former chairman of the Takapuna Community Board of the now defunct North Shore City Council had pleaded guilty to three counts of entering into a dealing involving people under 18 for sex, one charge of being knowingly concerned in the importation of objectionable publications and one charge of possessing an objectionable publication, NZME reports.

He was accused of paying a significant amount of money to access live child sex shows, which were filmed in Asia and streamed to New Zealand.

A multi-agency operation revealed between 2008 and 2017 Lawes sent about $100,000 to people in the Philippines via Paypal and Western Union.

He was found to have paid the leaders of a child-sex ring in Illigan City in the Philippines.

In September 2017 police seized devices from Lawes' home and discovered dozens of objectionable publications.

Evidence from live chats found he also enquired about the victims' ages and directed them on what to do.

Lawes told police he mostly watched shows featuring adults and the money was insignificant due to the fact he was wealthy.

He said he believed he was helping the children because they lived in poverty.