Thursday, October 28, 2021

New Zealand businessman sent to prison for child abuse images

SYDNEY (AP). One of New Zealand’s most prominent businessmen, Ron Brierly, was sentenced Thursday by a Sydney court to 14 months in prison for possessing thousands of images of child sexual abuse.

The 84-year-old former corporate raider pleaded guilty to the charges in New South Wales District Court in April but was released on bail pending sentencing.

Brierly, who confessed to being obsessed with young girls all his life, was arrested at Sydney International Airport in 2019.

The court sentences concerned 40,000 images found on devices in his luggage at the airport and at his home in Sydney.

His lawyers opposed the imprisonment and said that public punishment would be appropriate.

But Judge Sarah Haggett ruled that nothing short of a jail sentence would be “manifestly inadequate.” She accepted his remorseful expression and that he admitted the harm of his actions, but rejected the statement that he did not know that the images were illegal.

Haggett sentenced him to 14 months in prison with a seven-month period without parole. He faced a potential maximum of 10 years.

The judge noted a huge number of images, many victims, long-term possession of the material and its motivation for a sexual interest in girls.

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“The fall of the offender was radical,” she said, noting that he had previously participated in charity and other community service.

Brierley undertook a series of aggressive business maneuvers in the 1970s and 80s that resulted in Brierley Investments Ltd. has become one of the largest corporations in New Zealand. His profile tarnished somewhat after the 1987 stock market crash, but he continued to do business in New Zealand and at his new home in Australia.

Business publication NBR lists Brierly as one of the 100 richest people in New Zealand, with an estimated fortune of NZ $ 220 million ($ 153 million).

After pleading guilty, he was stripped of his knighthood, and his name was purged from the theater and sports field in New Zealand, at Wellington College, where he studied.

Denise Richie, a longtime campaigner against sexual violence against women and children, hailed Brierly’s prison sentence.

“Criminals like Brierly are fueling a heinous trade that requires children to be sexually abused, exploited and abused in front of cameras. His countless female victims will carry the psychological burden for the rest of their lives, ”Richie said in a statement.

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