Palmerston North man jailed for trading child abuse images over internet

A 22-year-old man was sentenced to 25 months’ imprisonment in the Palmerston North District Court today for importing and distributing electronic videos of children being sexually abused.

Thomas Stratton was convicted on five counts of importation (by downloading) and 12 counts of supply and distribution (forwarding email links), which are sample charges for over 3000 electronic images and videos that Customs found in his possession.

Stratton was part of a group email used actively by members to swap and talk about child sexual abuse images. In March this year, Customs caught him emailing links of child sexual exploitation and abuse videos from a USA-based website.

Customs carried out a search warrant at Stratton’s residence soon after. During the interview, he said he was addicted to the images.

Customs Manager Investigations Maurice O’Brien says offenders often try to deny or minimise their behaviour or blame addiction, but the fact remains that they are still viewing images of a horrendous crime where innocent children are exploited and victimised.

“Children often don’t even understand they are victims until later. This should never be described as pornography – these are images of crimes committed against children who are too young to understand.

“In this case, Stratton was viewing horrific abuse images and keeping them to exchange with others. Our ultimate aim is to save and protect victims, and it is unacceptable their images are used as a trading commodity,” Mr O’Brien says.

“To offenders out there – it is never ok and you are causing serious harm to innocent victims and yourselves. Don’t do it, you will be caught. Seek help from professional agencies like the SAFE network or Well Stop network.”