Man caught with thousands of child abuse images to live near school

Aaron Turner (48) will be allowed to continue working while serving his sentence. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
Aaron Turner (48) will be allowed to continue working while serving his sentence. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
A Dunedin man who amassed more than 9000 objectionable images claims he got no sexual gratification from them.

Aaron Brent Turner (48) told a psychologist the illegal haul — featuring children as young as 5 — was the product of his obsessive, hoarding behaviour, the Dunedin District Court heard yesterday.

Judge John Macdonald told the man in December he would impose an electronically monitored sentence, should an address be assessed as suitable.

However, sentencing was repeatedly adjourned through this year as Turner scrambled to find a house that satisfied Corrections.

His favoured property — in central Dunedin — was not endorsed by the department because of its proximity to schools and a public swimming baths.

Despite attempting to secure 32 other houses, counsel Andrew Dawson said, there was no other viable option.

Judge Macdonald yesterday sentenced Turner to six months’ community detention (on a 7pm-6.30am curfew) at the central address, along with two years’ intensive supervision.

While he declined an application for final name suppression, he prohibited publication of the defendant’s employment, which he would be allowed to continue while he served the sentence.

Mr Dawson said Turner was "the face of the business" and his employer would suffer if the details were revealed.

The court heard the defendant had been on bail for a year and working, sometimes near children, without issue.

Court documents were silent as to how Turner came to police’s attention but they executed a search warrant at the man’s home on March 13 last year.

During the raid, officers seized a laptop, a cellphone and an external hard drive.

Analysis of the devices showed Turner had been using them for the previous 18 months to access illegal material online.

Data on the laptop revealed the defendant frequented a website hosting depraved sexual stories.

An external hard drive in Turner’s car showed the depth of his offending.

Among the files were some featuring a woman engaged in sex acts with a dog and several featuring images of naked pre-pubescent children.

The vast majority — more than 9000 — featured girls between 5 and 10 forced to adopt sexualised poses.

While Turner denied the haul was for his sexual gratification, Judge Macdonald said the sheer volume contradicted that.

A psychologist’s report put the defendant at low-to-medium risk of reoffending.

There was not a likelihood Turner would move on to "contact offending" with children, the report writer predicted.

Given that, the judge opted not to place the man on the Child Sex Offender Register.

Corrections does not notify the community of an offender's presence in all cases. Notification can only take place once sentencing has been completed.


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