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'Kiwipedo' who tried to buy toddler online for sex to be released from prison

Author
George Block,
Publish Date
Wed, 13 Dec 2023, 4:18pm
Aaron Hutton at the Auckland District Court in July 2020. Photo / Alex Burton
Aaron Hutton at the Auckland District Court in July 2020. Photo / Alex Burton

'Kiwipedo' who tried to buy toddler online for sex to be released from prison

Author
George Block,
Publish Date
Wed, 13 Dec 2023, 4:18pm

A man once known on the dark web as “Kiwipedo” who tried to buy a child online for sex will be released from prison into a small New Zealand community.

At his hearing before a panel of Parole Board members on Wednesday afternoon, Aaron Hutton partially walked back his earlier comments that he was only intending to “troll” authorities by engaging in chats where he expressed a desire to purchase a 3-year-old.

He told panel convenor Kathryn Snook he never had the intent of trafficking a child.

In some instances he thought he was talking to the police, but in others he used the chats for his own gratification, Hutton admitted.

He said he no longer harboured an attraction to young children.

His parole hearing came a year after he was resentenced to three years in prison for possessing objectionable material and attempting to deal in people under 18 for sex.

An earlier five-year term was thrown out in July 2021 after High Court Justice Timothy Brewer found the previous sentencing hearing was improperly conducted.

The hearing on Wednesday was set for last month, but was adjourned because of unresolved questions regarding the son of Hutton’s partner, and whether he could visit the proposed parole location unexpectedly while Hutton was there.

It was clarified that he would not and the new hearing went ahead.

His lawyer Michelle Clark said Hutton had completed a child sex offender programme. He was reported to have had good engagement, a positive attitude and insight into his offending, Clark said.

Under questioning from Snook, Hutton said at the time of his offending he had isolated himself and was suffering from depression and financial stress amid the pressures of running a family business.

“That’s what led me to going down those paths,” he said.

“Going forward, that’s not going to be an issue.”

He said the child sex offender programme was beneficial and had highlighted the factors behind his offending.

Hutton said being on the dark web led to him being dragged into a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories.

Aaron Hutton at the Auckland District Court in July 2020. Photo / Alex Burton
Aaron Hutton at the Auckland District Court in July 2020. Photo / Alex Burton

He said he had come to realise he could not have been sure he was talking to police when he discussed procuring a toddler.

As a result, he now realised a child could have been harmed by his actions, he said.

Hutton said that at the time he harboured a “fleeting attraction” to children but he no longer had a sexual interest in young people.

His partner, whom Hutton was with at the time of the offending and who appears to have stuck by him, said she believed he was coming out of prison a much better person.

There were good work options for him in their small community, she said.

“I think he just wants to get out and live life.”

The panel retired for a few minutes to consider their decision before reconvening, when Snook announced he would be released on January 8.

Aaron Hutton walking into the Auckland District Court during his trial. Photo / NZME
Aaron Hutton walking into the Auckland District Court during his trial. Photo / NZME

He is subject to standard and special conditions, including not to contact people under 16 and restrictions on using internet-capable devices.

Snook ordered there to be no reporting of the location of his release, where he will live with his partner.

Police first started tracking a person with the username “Kiwipedo” in 2014, thanks to an undercover operation on the dark web conducted by Australian law enforcement.

The computer was traced to an Auckland workplace in 2015, and both the workplace and his home were searched by New Zealand authorities.

The Department of Internal Affairs was alerted and undercover officers from New Zealand then contacted him on the dark web.

Not realising he was speaking to undercover law enforcement officers in Australia, Kiwipedo described notorious Austrian paedophile Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter in a basement for 24 years and repeatedly raped her, as a “hero”, authorities alleged.

It was with New Zealand officers that he started asking about international child trafficking and said he would pay up to $15,000 in cash or in Bitcoin for a child under 7.

Hutton initially stood trial for two charges of attempting to deal with a young person for sexual exploitation, one charge of attempted indecent act on a child and 15 charges of possession of objectionable publications.

As part of a plea agreement, Hutton admitted that from January to February 2015 he tried to enter a deal involving the sexual exploitation of a girl under the age of 7. He also pleaded guilty to one representative charge of possession of 417 objectionable images of children being sexually abused.

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