A man in his 70s showered a 10-year-old girl with money and gifts and offered to leave her $10,000 in his will if she supplied him with nude photographs of herself.
On Thursday, Donald James Hancock, 72, pleaded guilty to a charge of exposing a young person to indecent material and accepted a sentencing indication given to him of 12 months’ intensive supervision.
Hancock had worked as a photographer for decades, including at weddings, funerals and on other occasions and knew the young victim through an association with her wider family.
During a November 2015 visit, Hancock noticed the girl had a camera and talked to her about photography. After this, he regularly visited the family and would often buy gifts for the victim or give her money when no one else was around.
* Government moves to close loophole in child sex offender register
* Child sex offender accused of breaching reporting obligations
* Marlborough teen admits filming sex abuse of child while they played hide-and-seek
* Rape victims say their complaints still aren’t being taken seriously
During one visit, Hancock showed the victim his will and told her he wanted nude photos of her. He told her if she did as he wished, she would get $10,000 when he died but he asked the girl not to tell anyone of his offer.
Between September and October 2016, Hancock went on to pay for the victim’s birthday celebrations and fully funded a trip he went on with the girl and her family.
He also offered to pay for the girl to have ballet lessons and would pick her up to take her to weekly classes.
The police summary of facts said during this time the victim’s parents felt worthless and under his control.
At one point, Hancock asked the victim’s mother to take photographs of the girl, in which he suggested she should only wear a hula skirt and her underwear.
On October 29 2016, during lunch with the family, Hancock asked the girl if she had taken the photos yet and in response she told him she did not want to.
The summary of facts stated Hancock told the girl “if you don’t want to do it love, I’ll just see some other girls.”
Shortly afterwards, the victim told her grandmother of Hancock’s request for the nude photos.
During his police interview, Hancock admitted he had asked for the photographs and described the victim as “a sparkling lass who he wanted to be a good friend of forever,” the summary of facts stated.
“In explanation the defendant stated that he told the mother of the victim to take naked photos of the victim from now until she was about 14-15 years of age so he could compile a book documenting her body developing.”
He told police he had no intention to harm the victim and did not think his proposal was an inappropriate one.
Sergeant Lewis Sutton requested that Hancock be placed on the child sex offender register and told the New Plymouth District Court the defendant had previous convictions for indecent assault in 1985 and in 1996 for possessing objectionable material.
Sutton said Hancock posed a risk to the safety of children and placement on the register would provide the necessary oversight to prevent re-offending.
Lawyer Kylie Pascoe refuted the need for Hancock to be placed on the register as there had been no indecent touching of the victim. She acknowledged Hancock’s previous convictions but said they were historical and of a different nature to his current charge.
“The basis of the indecent communication is verbal only – a request for those photographs,” she said.
However, Judge Chris Sygrove was satisfied there were sufficient grounds for Hancock’s name to be added to the register and granted the police’s request.
Along with the intensive supervision order, Hancock was ordered to pay $500 in emotional harm and to attend a post-sentence restorative justice meeting.