A father who was drunk and “lonely” filmed his young daughter while sleeping and sent the visual to a woman through a dating app, then repeatedly offered the girl up for sex.
The 49-year-old, who has name suppressed, claimed he was playing into the sexual fantasies of the woman receiving the messages.
After sending her the video, he sent a photo from the internet of a girl’s genitalia, pretending it was his daughter’s. He asked her if she wanted to touch the girl inappropriately.
Now the girl’s mother has shared the pain of lying to her daughter about why she can’t see her father.
He appeared in Christchurch District Court this week for sentencing on charges of making an objectionable publication and making an intimate visual recording.
At the hearing, the mother told of how she and the man previously shared custody of the girl but since his offending came to light, their arrangement had fallen apart.
Her victim impact statement, read to the court by a support person, said the girl did not know the extent of her father’s offending.
The girl would become upset when told she is not able to see her father, the mother said.
“I told her he was sick and she could see him when he got support … it’s not nice to lie,” she said.
The mother said her ex has had issues with alcohol for as long as she has known him. However, she still wanted her daughter to have a relationship with him, albeit under strict guidelines.
“I don’t have any hate towards him, just a lot of confusion as to how this could have happened,” she said.
According to the summary of facts, the girl was staying at her father’s house when the offending occurred last year.
During that time, the man connected with a woman on a dating app and they began messaging.
The conversation continued for two days and largely focused on sexual references related to his daughter.
One evening, the man put his daughter to bed. When he later went into his bedroom, he found she had climbed into his bed and was asleep, wearing pyjamas.
He lifted the sheets and filmed her in what Judge Gerard Lynch described as a sexual manner. The father then sent the video to the woman while discussing his daughter sexually.
The next day, the woman asked the man if he had done sexual things to his daughter. He told her they had sex and that she was welcome to touch his daughter inappropriately if she wanted to.
He went on to twice offer his daughter to the woman for sex, to which she declined.
The man then asked if she wanted to see his daughter’s genitalia before sending her an explicit photo of a young girl that was not his daughter.
The pair continued to message, mostly about the woman having sex with his daughter.
When police searched the man’s phone, they recovered the video of his daughter asleep in bed, which he had deleted.
He was charged with making an objectionable publication and making an intimate visual recording.
‘Who can she trust?’
Judge Gerard Lynch declined the man’s lawyer April Kelland’s request to hold the sentencing in closed court, meaning members of the public would have to leave.
Ms Kelland said both the charges, while serious, were on the lower end of the scale and her client was drinking heavily when he was messaging the woman. She also asked the judge to suppress the man’s name.
She said he was “horrified” when he saw the messages once he had sobered up, but stated the video of his daughter was not sexual in nature.
However, Judge Lynch rejected this and said there was a sexual undertone to the video, pointing out the man had been messaging the woman about touching the girl inappropriately before sending it.
The judge said the man’s actions have had a significant impact on his daughter as she struggled to understand why she couldn’t see him anymore.
“Your actions have forced her mother to lie to your daughter … if a daughter cannot trust her father who can she trust?” he said.
Crown Prosecutor Jade Lancaster said the girl’s mother still wanted her to have a relationship with her father, but this should be monitored.
Ms Lancaster agreed with Ms Kelland’s request to suppress the name of the father so as to protect his daughter’s identity.
Playing into a ‘sexual fantasy’
The man said he had become unhappy in his employment and was drinking heavily. When he was asked why he sent the video of his daughter sleeping, he said he was playing into the woman’s sexual fantasy and was lonely.
Reports showed the man had a “distorted” view of his offending, claiming he never put his daughter at risk as he didn’t give out his address.
A psychology assessment revealed he was at moderate risk of sexual reoffending but showed “motivation and skills” to become a better father.
Judge Lynch gave the man discounts for his guilty pleas and personal factors such as motivation for rehabilitation.
But he refused to give credit for remorse, stating the man had blamed alcohol and “social lows” for his offending.
He sentenced him to one year and 10 months of home detention and did not add him to the child sex offender register.
The judge also granted the man name suppression until his daughter turns 18, “not for his benefit, but for the benefit of the child”.
This article originally appeared on NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission