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Preventive detention for child predator

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/07/2016

A convicted child sex offender's "predatory behaviour" destroyed a nine-year-old boy's innocence when he sexually groomed him over the internet, a judge has said.

Hamilton man Michael Lesley Stevens, 30, has been sentenced to preventive detention and a minimum of five years in prison after appearing in the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday.

He previously pleaded guilty to a raft of child sex charges charges, including two charges of committing indecent acts on children under 16 and 12.

Stevens was previously convicted of a number of child sex offences in 2004

Upon his release from prison in 2011 he was placed under strict supervision, but in 2012 cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and briefly went on the run.

While living in at a monitored address, with random room searches and no unsupervised internet access, Stevens was able to accumulate a number of mobile devices and download 5000 objectionable images.

Prosecutor Evan McCaughan said the supervision conditions should have been sufficient to prevent Stevens reoffending, but it was questionable how strictly monitored those conditions were.

Justice Kit Toogood described how Stevens' background of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of older boys and family members, which started when he was around nine years old, preceded his own sexual offending that began when he was a teenager.

He became involved in a loving relationship with a woman after his previous prison sentence, and fathered a son, but the stresses of dealing with his offending led to a break-up.

In October last year, Stevens started chatting to a nine-year-old Wellington boy via an online game and convinced him to set up a Skype account, asking the boy to send him pictures of his penis.

The boy initially refused, but eventually sent him several pictures of his body.

Stevens' offending was only discovered when the boy's parents found the Skype account.

Justice Toogood said the victim was ashamed and thought what had happened was his fault.

"Your predatory behaviour destroyed his innocence."

Although Stevens' offending was at the lower level, the judge said he was concerned Stevens would remain a high risk offender upon release from prison, as he had failed to rehabilitate himself despite engaging in several programmes.

"Offending of the kind you indulged in causes serious harm to children and young people."

He had also shown "flagrant" disregard for complying with the conditions of his extended supervision order.

A sentence of preventive detention - where an offender can be jailed for an indefinite period - would give him some incentive to complete rehabilitation, Justice Toogood said.

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