Lawrence John Davidson
From NZ Herald story 9th May 2008
Three Auckland girls fell victim to a sexual predator who groomed them over the internet. This was revealed yesterday as their attacker was sentenced to five years in jail. Lawrence John Davidson, 57, of Christchurch admitted three charges of sexual connection with under-age girls, three of meeting the girls after sexual grooming, and two of possessing objectionable images on his computer, including images of two of the girls. Two of the girls were aged 15 and one was 12. They said in the chatroom that they were 18 and 16. Judge David Saunders said in sentencing that he did not want to place any blame on the girls or their families, but the case was a warning.
"Parents need to be vigilant about what their children are doing in computer chat rooms and the associations they might make in that medium." The officer in charge of the Christchurch child-abuse team, Detective Sergeant Neville Jenkins, told the Herald last night that Davidson groomed the girls online before travelling to Manukau, Orewa, the North Shore and Waitakere and sexually abusing them during 2006. Mr Jenkins said the girls' parents had no idea what had happened to their daughters before being contacted by police. Officers found the girls from one of the images which showed a "very small" portion of a school emblem on a school tunic.
The victims' families were "pretty devastated", but Mr Jenkins said internet grooming was becoming more prevalent. "The computer is playing a greater part in a lot of crime child-abuse teams around the country are dealing with. It's now a much more anonymous way of hunting for victims." A sexual abuse helpline has reported a dramatic rise in the numbers of young women being targeted by online predators. The Auckland Sexual Abuse Help Foundation said there was a "significant increase" in the number of women seeking help after suffering sexual abuse or assault by someone known to them - either from their own home or from first-time meetings after internet dating.
Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said children were constantly at risk of being duped online, and urged them not to lie about their age on websites. Mr Cocker said parents should try to know what their children were doing on the internet and encourage them to visit "age appropriate" websites and observe age limits, such as being at least 13 to use social networking site Bebo. Predators lurked on websites so users had to be aware, he said. "You can go on and look at thousands of profiles of people and decide who you are going to approach.
"The best way to keep children safe is to have open relationships and open dialogue between the parents and the children." Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar criticised Davidson's "lenient" sentence, saying five years was not enough of a deterrent to other potential sex offenders. Judge David Saunders said the sentence would allow time for Davidson to be assessed and receive treatment.
From the Press, Tuesday 18th November 2008
The Court of Appeal has added a year to the jail sentence of a Christchurch child-sex offender, and also imposed a three and-a-half year minimum period of imprisonment. The court said Lawrence John Davidson's offending was near the most serious of its kind. Davidson, 57, a former business manager of AgriQuality New Zealand (now AsureQuality), was sentenced to five years in prison for having sex with three under-age Auckland girls. Davidson contacted his victims on internet websites and groomed them through texts, emails and MSN communication. He met the girls at rented cabins, had sex with them, and took photographs them.
Two of the girls were 14, while the third was a 12-year-old virgin who was wearing her intermediate-school uniform when she first met Davidson. In May, Davidson was sentenced to five years jail. Yesterday the Court of Appeal upheld a Crown appeal for a longer sentence, saying the trial judge's assessment of mitigating factors such as Davidson's guilty plea and entry into a sex-offender treatment programme should have been outweighed by the fact there were three victims, all of whom had been severely affected by his crimes. "The victimisation of the girls, as evidenced by their victim impact reports, is not dissimilar to that suffered by rape victims," the Court of Appeal judgment said.
The judgment said although there was only one encounter between Davidson and each of his victims, each case involved a number of different degradations, and warranted a six-year sentence. "A starting point near the maximum of 10 years was required in order to recognise the extreme manipulation involved in the grooming of the girls prior to the offending, the extensive premeditation, the vulnerability of the girls ... and the fact that (Davidson) photographed the girls while they underwent the sexual degradation and kept those images on his computer."
The court said disapproval of crimes such as Davidson's and the need for deterrence meant a minimum jail period should have been imposed. In doing so, the court said it was obliged to bear in mind a Supreme Court comment that a successful Crown appeal should see a sentence adjusted by no more than "the minimum necessary to remove the element of manifest inadequacy". Setting Davidson's minimum imprisonment at 3 years 6 months, the Court of Appeal said if it had been the first court to sentence Davidson it would have opted for a minimum closer to two-thirds of his sentence.
From the Press, Friday 9th May 2008
An intermediate school emblem in a pornographic photo led to the downfall of a Christchurch child-sex offender. Lawrence John Davidson, 57, a former business manager of state-owned enterprise AgriQuality New Zealand (now AsureQuality), was sentenced to five years in prison for having sex with three under-age Auckland girls when he appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday.Judge David Saunders sentenced Davidson to five years prison for unlawful sexual connection with a 12-year-old and two 14-year-olds during 2006. He was also sentenced to three years imprisonment for sexual grooming, and 18 months imprisonment for possessing objectionable material - to be served concurrently.
The judge said the case illustrated the need for parents to be vigilant about their children's use of the Internet. The offences were committed in Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere after Davidson initiated contact with the victims on Internet websites, including AdultFriend Finder and Bebo, as well as texts, emails and MSN communication after the initial contact. The officer in charge of the case, Detective Ashley Millen, said Davidson's prosecution was the result of "good old-fashioned legwork" after police trawled through thousands of pornographic images identifying victims from locally made pictures. The pictures were discovered on Davidson's work laptop by his colleagues, who handed the computer to police.
One image showed a portion of a school emblem which enabled police to track the 12-year-old victim to a school in Auckland. "Obviously, we knew who it was, so it was just a matter of speaking to the child and the child's parents and she had little choice other than confirming it." The victim told police she first met Davidson over the Internet and that they then met in person. Davidson took the 12-year-old to a motel where he took photographs of her naked and performing sexual acts. He tied her to a bed, performing sexual acts on her, as well as intercourse. She was a virgin.
After interviewing Davidson, police obtained two other Internet nicknames for girls. Police tracked the two 14-year-olds through social networking websites and found them on Bebo. The girls had supplied personal details on the Internet. "Subsequently, we got two further complaints." The two other separate sexual encounters also involved Davidson picking them up in Auckland, taking them to a motel room where they had sex, at times using objects on them, and taking pornographic images. He treated one of the girls to an expensive haircut. Millen said child predators on the net were "part and parcel" of their work.
"Where once predators may hang around outside schools, they now hang around the computers and these sites because it's safer. They can remain more anonymous." In court, the judge said parents should be more vigilant with their children's use of computers and the Internet. "Despite the fact you treated one of them to an expensive hairdo there was still no connection or investigation as to how that came about. "I'm not placing blame, but it illustrates there's a need for parents to be vigilant as to what their children are doing by the use of computer chatrooms and associations they may make through that medium."
Crown prosecutor Zannah Johnston had sought a minimum non-parole period for Davidson but the judge said it was not warranted. Davidson had begun a treatment programme and was likely to be considered a suitable candidate for the Kia Marama sex offenders' treatment programme in prison. Defence counsel Mark Callaghan said Davidson had committed a crime of omission because he had not asked the girls' ages. Online, the girls had said their ages were 18 and 16. Davidson had lied about his age when contacting them in the chatroom
Date of Birth
1951 (D.O.B. is approximate)
Was sentenced to just 5 years in May 2008
Increased by the Solicitor-General to 6 years with a 3 year 6 month non-parole period on appeal
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links Lawrence John Davidson Appeal Notes
Sex-offender's sentence extended
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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