News from NZ Police
Aaron Paul Laurence, 38, of Wellington, was today sentenced to 12 years and nine months’ jail when he appeared for sentencing in the Wellington High Court on a number of child sex charges. A minimum non-parole period of six and a half years was also imposed.
The former art gallery owner pleaded guilty in March to over 60 charges of abuse, including the sexual violation of young boys and the production and distribution of footage of the abuse.
During the investigation into Laurence’s offending, police found more than 31,000 images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of young boys, including the abuse of eight boys aged between 8 and 13 across the lower North Island.
As a result of the investigation, two children from overseas were rescued from further sex abuse in their home country.
Officer in charge of the case, Detective Senior Sergeant Kylie Schaare, said a joint investigation by the Wellington District Child Protection Team and the specialist police unit OCEANZ (Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand) had proved highly successful.
“Our response to the sexual abuse of children is very comprehensive and with a joint approach between districts and OCEANZ, we have a range of resources that can be effectively used to investigate the sexual abuse of children,” Ms Schaare said.
“Child sex offenders should be put on notice that our approach to this type of crime is proactive – we do not sit around and wait for complaints to be received – we are actively seeking those individuals who would offend against our most vulnerable members of society.”
Ms Schaare issued a warning to child sex offenders. “If you seek to exploit children either in the virtual or real world, rest assured that we will catch you eventually and hold you to account.”
Police had not received any complaints about Laurence from his victims and his offending was only discovered through police’s ongoing investigations into the sexual exploitation of children.
Ms Schaare said police were often the only ones able to give victims a “voice” and in Laurence’s case, his offending had had a huge impact on those he abused. Some would carry the scars for the rest of their lives.