Disgraced NZ businessman Ron Brierley sentenced to 14 months in prison

Disgraced New Zealand businessman Ron Brierley has been sentenced to 14 months in prison after pleading guilty to being in possession of thousands of images of child abuse material.

Brierley was given a non-parole period of seven months.

At one point the 84-year-old appeared to wipe away a tear during his appearance at the Downing Centre court in Sydney’s CBD.

He sat hunched over in his seat, before being escorted away by two Corrections officers in full PPE.

Judge Huggett told the court that a large number of children had been depicted in the illegal material.

She said “real children were used and thereby harmed”, and that Brierley had a “life-long obsession” with young girls.

“They were images that provided this offender with sexual gratification.”

However, Judge Huggett said while the content of the images was serious, they were on the lower end of the scale of offending.

It was revealed earlier this year that Brierley was in possession of nearly 47,000 pictures depicting child abuse - spread across several devices - when he was arrested at Sydney Airport in 2019, and after further searches of his home.

During an interview with the Australian Border Force about the images, he said, “I reckon they are perfectly alright.”

He said he hadn’t viewed the images for sexual purposes, and that he’d found them “interesting”.

Court documents reveal many photos were of female children in various states of dress or undress, in sexualised poses.

He also possessed a video, which ran for almost two hours, focused on the breasts and genital areas of six young female children.

Brierley also had one ‘category one’ image, which depicted a naked child with her genitals exposed. The image had been sent to Brierley‘s business email address, when he worked at the Guinness Peat Group in 2007.

Brierley entered three guilty pleas to charges in April this year and was stripped of his knighthood in May.

His lawyers have previously argued Brierley didn’t know he was in possession of illegal child abuse material, and had asked for him to serve his sentence in the community.

Brierley’s legal team has previously said that while the offending was serious, the images he was in possession of weren’t stored in a secretive manner and were mixed in with material that wasn’t illegal.

The judge also considered Brierley’s medical situation when assessing the case for sentencing.

She said Brierley had been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder and vascular dementia.

Medical experts have also concluded Brierley has a “paedophilic disorder” and a “hoarding disorder”.