Sun, Sep 28, 2003 - Page 6 News List

NZ court asked if just looking is illegal


Does looking at child pornography on the Internet, but not downloading it, amount to the criminal offence of possessing it?

That is a question a New Zealand judge is considering in a test case authorities have brought against the former headmaster of a school, a newspaper reported yesterday.

David Young, 50, pleaded not guilty in the Christchurch District Court to 10 charges of possessing objectionable material under terms of New Zealand's Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act, The Press newspaper reported.

The Department of Internal Affairs found evidence that 111 pornographic pictures had been viewed on a computer at a school where Young was headmaster from 1997 to December 2001. Thirty-four of those were objectionable, child-related pictures.

Some of the images suggest teachers having sex with young children, the paper said.

Young admitted visiting pornographic sites during school hours, but denied he was in possession of the material under the law because he did not save or print any of the pictures.

But the prosecution claimed he possessed them simply by searching out and accessing the images on screen.

Judge Edward Ryan reserved his decision, saying there was "a lot of thinking to be done on what is a very narrow point."

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