Warning: This article contains content which may disturb some people.
A 36-year-old man who tried to purchase a child online to sexually abuse and possessed more than 400 images of child sexual exploitation has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Aaron Hutton last year pleaded guilty to charges relating to the possession of child sexual exploitation material and entering into a dealing involving the sexual exploitation of a child.
On Friday, in the Auckland District Court, he was sentenced to five years in prison for the crimes and was ordered to forfeit all devices involved in his offending. Additionally, he will be added to the Child Sexual Offenders Register.
Hutton's imprisonment follows a joint investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and New Zealand Police.
Back in 2015, the Digital Child Exploitation Team at the DIA began an investigation on the Dark Web which led to inquiries into an individual who called himself 'KiwiPedo'. This was later found to be Hutton.
According to a statement from the DIA, the user "requested child sexual exploitation material from Covert Online Investigators and attempted to meet with and purchase a child for the purposes of sexual exploitation".
The DIA said that while the nature of the Dark Web means it can be hard to identify those "producing, collecting and distributing images of child sexual exploitation and abuse", as offenders become more sophisticated, so do investigators.
"Over the course of the following months, Covert Online Investigators were able to collect enough information to successfully apply for search warrants at a business and residential address where a number of devices were subsequently seized.
"Electronic forensic examination by DIA then led to the discovery of over 400 images depicting the sexual exploitation of children, as well as evidence that Aaron Hutton was 'kiwipedo'".
Tim Houston, the manager of the DIA Digital Child Exploitation Team, said it was a successful operation with police and was a "good example of how agencies domestically and internationally work together to apprehend these types of offenders".
"DIA, Customs, and Police continue to work tirelessly together to investigate individuals trading in child sexual exploitation material," Houston said.
"We are acutely aware that persons consuming and distributing child sexual exploitation material also present significant risks to children in the offline world.
"Child sexual exploitation and abuse material depicts a crime scene, and the worst moment in a child’s life. Stopping the distribution of this type of material is critical because every time this material is shared, the children involved in this crime are re‐victimised."
Detective Sergeant Corey Brown of the Waitemata Police also said the operation had been a success.
"This was a prolonged, detailed investigation and Police and our partners are constantly evolving in our investigative techniques to target those individuals offending online.
"We hope today’s sentencing serves as a warning to other offenders preying on children online and distributing child exploitation material that it is only a matter of time before you are caught and prosecuted."
If you are the victim of a child abuse crime:
- Child Abuse: Directory for information and support
- Safe to Talk: 0800 044 334 Text 4334
If you are concerned about someone else’s sexual behaviour, you should contact organisations such as:
Or local treatment providers, or specialist therapists.