Child abuse porn offender stays in the community

July 12, 2017 | By More

A judge has kept a 24-year-old child abuse pornography offender out of prison after learning of his struggles with Asperger’s syndrome.

Instead, Vincenzo Tyrone Wiremu will stay under intensive supervision for two years, and have no access to the Internet, where he had traded images on the “dark web” for years.

Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish described the images as “so gross” when she sentenced the Rolleston truck driver today, after commenting when sentencing was delayed in March that he would likely face a jail term.

The images ranged from toddlers to prepubescent children, boys and girls, sometimes posing, or being subjected to penetrative sexual abuse, and sometimes gagged, tied, or restrained.

Wiremu had admitted 41 charges brought by the Department of Internal Affairs, of making, possessing, or distributing objectionable material.

The offending was identified through a United States connection and referred back to the DIA in New Zealand which executed a search warrant in April 2016. Wiremu admitted using a “drop box” system where people could access the files, and voluntarily provided access to email and other accounts he used. That included setting up a Facebook page titled “young love” in which to place images.

DIA prosecutor Marty Robinson said the department was concerned about the large number of people – more than 100 – who had accessed the distributed material, and by the extreme nature of the abuse. The department called for a starting point of six years’ jail, before other factors were considered.

Defence counsel Paul Johnson said that after taking responsibility for the offending, Wiremu had found he still had a significant amount of support from his family and employers, who were prepared to keep him on.

Judge Farish said the sentence she was imposing did not involve her being “soft” on Wiremu, and it could not be regarded as setting a precedent. She did not want to set a sentence that would “lose sight of rehabilitation”.

She did not see him as a risk of causing serious harm, but he was a risk in terms of accessing computer systems. He had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome but he had achieved relatively well and had a full time job where he was well regarded.

She told Wiremu: “Every image you viewed was of a person committing a crime against a young person. It caused long term physical and mental harm. It caused ongoing anguish.”

She had read victim impact statements from people who had been abused as children for online pornography and found as adults that they were being “re-abused” because people were continuing to watch it.

Young men sometimes formed their sexual identity through the use of online pornography. “Unless there are checks and balances, their sexual identity is formed by what they see on the Internet.” Parents and social media had an obligation to monitor and do their utmost to check what young people were seeing.

“Social media have an obligation to remove or report images that are clearly objectionable,” she said. That approach could lead to a change in behaviour for men such as Wiremu, “but I think it is probably a long road”.

She had a detailed report from a clinical psychologist who was an expert in the field. He said that Wiremu’s Asperger’s had restricted his social skills and blocked accessibility to same-age partners for social and sexual development. On his own, he had discovered the available pornography on the Internet.

His condition had led to general poor social and communications skills, an inability so far to maintain any long term relationships, negative emotions from experiencing social rejection, and restricted problem-solving skills.

Special needs had to be considered for sentencing, including the “delicate, fragile social connections” for a person with Asperger’s.

Judge Farish said she accepted there was a diminished culpability because of Wiremu’s Asperger’s. She now saw a prison term as being counter-productive for Wiremu, and for society in general, and said home detention would undermine the rehabilitative purpose of sentencing.

In what she termed an “unusual case”, she sentenced Wiremu to two years of intensive supervision during which he must have specialist counselling, not possess Internet-capable devices without approval, and live at an approved address.

He will not be allowed to have contact with children aged under 16 without an approved adult present, until the issue has been considered by the psychologist.

The judge did not order his registration as a child sex offender, because she said the “negative and restrictive nature of the Act” would compromise his treatment, and end his employment.

He will continue to be monitored by the judge, who warned him that any breaches of the sentence would mean sending him to jail.

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