19 May 2016

Krystal Harvey's sentence for filming child sex abuse doubled

8:46 am on 19 May 2016

A woman who admitted filming herself sexually abusing a one-year-old boy for money has had her prison sentence almost doubled following a Crown appeal.

The profile picture of the Krystal Harvey should go to prison Facebook page.

A Facebook page was set up saying Krystal Harvey should go to prison. Photo: FACEBOOK

Krystal Harvey, who was 22 when she carried out the abuse, was originally sentenced in January in the Manukau District Court to eight months' home detention, and 100 hours' community work.

The case sparked outrage on social media, with many people saying Harvey should be behind bars, and others threatening to physically harm her. An online petition demanding she be sent to prison attracted more than 6500 signatures.

Following the threats, Judge Recordon converted her home detention sentence to a two-year jail term for her own protection.

But the Crown said the sentence was manifestly inadequate and wrong in principle, and appealed to the High Court.

Justice Wylie agreed and extended the sentence to three years and nine months.

Harvey had pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual connection. The charge carries a maximum 20-year sentence and almost inevitably results in a prison sentence.

She also admitted a charge of making an objectionable recording which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

Initially Harvey told police she had carried out the act because she had been threatened by the paedophile but later said she did it for the money which she had spent on a laptop.

High Court appeal

During the High Court appeal argument, Crown Law lawyer Matthew Downs said Harvey recorded herself sexually abusing a one year old and the film was sent to a paedophile for his sexual gratification.

Defence lawyer Annabel Maxwell-Scott said Judge Recordon's sentence was humane.

She pointed to Harvey's young age, previous clean record and said Harvey had been groomed by the paedophile.

She said Harvey was vulnerable, had a troubled background and a borderline personality disorder.

In the January sentence, Judge Recordon at the Manukau District Court said Harvey's life was a mess and that would not change if she went to prison. He said he had to start with rehabilitation, and described Harvey as a simple soul. He said 12 months home detention for anyone was too long and gave her the eight-month sentence, combined with judicial monitoring.

Justice Wylie, in his appeal decision released to RNZ earlier this week, said the crime was carried out against a defenceless, vulnerable victim for money.

He found the district court's sentence "manifestly inadequate".

Judge Recordon had said the victim's youth decreased the seriousness of the crime, but Justice Wylie found the opposite to be the case.

He also struggled with Judge Recordon's starting point of rehabilitation.

Justice Wylie said this was a breach of trust for money and because it was filmed there could be future psychological harm.

He gave Harvey a small discount for her clean record and her young age, citing evidence from her foster mother and a social worker that Harvey was far younger in maturity than her years.

Justice Wylie also took time off Harvey's sentence for remorse and gave the full 25 percent discount available for her early guilty pleas, reaching an end sentence of three years and nine months.

He said he hoped Harvey could take part in a group-based rehabilitation programme while inside prison.