7 months ago

Former Pitcairn mayor denies porn possession charges

6:23 pm on 1 February 2016

The former mayor of Pitcairn Island has gone on trial today charged with possessing sexually explicit films and photos of children.

Michael Warren appeared by a video link to a court room in Auckland where the Judge's bench was flanked by the flags of Pitcairn and the United Kingdom's Union Jack.

Mr Warren denies 25 charges relating to over 800 child sex films, images and messages.

The case goes back to 2010 when Mr Warren was mayor of the tiny British territory in the Pacific that has a population of between 40 and 50 people.

He sent an email to a diplomatic staff member querying a mayoral payment but he sent the email from an address in someone else's name.

When the staff member searched for mention of the address online, she found it was linked to an online chat site that contained explicit material.

The woman passed her concerns on to police.

Sergeant Geoff Medland was seconded to Pitcairn Island.

He told the Pitcairn Supreme Court today that he obtained search warrants and seized a computer, hard drives and CDs.

In his opening address, Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery said investigators found 1.6 million images on Mr Warren's computers. Many of them were innocent and included photos of a Seventh Day Adventist church in the United States and photos of New Orleans in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

But 400,000 were sexually explicit and 1000 of those contained sexual photographs of children.

Mr Raftery said Mr Warren's defence had earlier been he had child sex images because he wanted to understand child pornography in light of the 2004 Pitcairn sex abuse cases.

Those cases saw eight men jailed for rape and sex abuse.

Mr Raftery pointed out that those cases were not about pictures.

Mr Warren's lawyer Tony Ellis said Mr Warren had a comparatively moderate collection of images, when compared with other cases.

He said Mr Warren did not fit with what members of the public would call a pedophile and he said Mr Warren was sexually interested in adults.

Mr Ellis said the case had to be looked at in a Pitcairn context - the island had a limited number of adults and most of them were already in relationships.

The case will be partly heard in Auckland before adjourning to Pitcairn Island.

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