Robert Frank Theunissen
Rotorua Daily Post story 22nd January2010
Sounds of disapproval echoed from the public gallery in the Rotorua District Court as a former police officer was fined for possession of obscene images of young girls being abused. "If it had been anyone else, they would have gone to jail," one person remarked. "Is that all?" another was heard to say. Robert Theunissen was fined $1000 and $260 court costs by Judge Chris McGuire yesterday. The 64-year-old pleaded guilty to 18 charges of possession of objectionable material at an earlier court hearing.
Outside court, one couple told The Daily Post they were "disgusted" by the penalty. Cherrise Karaitaina, who had been sitting in the public gallery, said it was a "ridiculous" punishment. "He's getting away with child porn," she said. "I just don't understand it. It is so unfair - the system is wrong." Boss Kidwell, who was waiting to be sentenced for breach of community work, said he was "appalled" by what he called an "extremely light" sentence. "It's downright disgusting. He should have gone to jail. Anyone else in this community would have gone to jail for doing that," he said.
Theunissen declined to make any comment but his lawyer, Brett Cooper, told The Daily Post after the sentencing that under the circumstances, anyone in the same situation would have received the same punishment. His client only viewed the images once and hadn't intended to download the pornographic pictures and movies, Mr Cooper said. "I don't agree the sentence was light. ... He only looked at it once." During Theunissen's sentencing before Judge McGuire yesterday, Mr Cooper unsuccessfully requested the court discharge his client without conviction because of his "exemplary" career and the fact he looked at the images only once.
Mr Cooper said Mr Theunissen didn't intend to download the images. His client had also paid a $1000 donation to Rotorua Plunket Society, he said. The images were discovered when Theunissen took his computer to Need-a-Nerd to have it upgraded. The images included pictures of pre-teen girls with their privates exposed and movies of women involved in bestiality. Speaking to The Daily Post after yesterday's sentencing, the director of Ecpat Child Alert, Alan Bell, said he was shocked by the fine, considering Theunissen's position in the community.
"It's disturbing and disappointing to note that a person who in the past has been responsible for upholding the law, has now been convicted of breaking it in such a despicable manner." Mr Bell said he believed the former policeman had got off lightly. "Given his background, he will have been well aware of the seriousness of viewing child sex abuse images and I consider he has got off lightly. This does not seem to be a strong enough penalty to deter people from being involved in this form of sexual exploitation of children." It did not matter how many images he had or how many times he looked at them, Mr Bell said.
"It doesn't excuse his Behaviour."These images are created and remain available because of the demand created by such people. Every time they are viewed, the abuse is repeated and the demand sustained," he said. At sentencing, Judge McGuire noted Theunissen's long service with the police,as both a serving officer and more recently a speed camera operator. The judge said most offences of this type were committed by people with exemplary careers, including teachers and principals. "This type of offending crosses all socio-economic boundaries," he said.
Rotorua Daily Post story 11th July 2009
A former Rotorua policeman working as a city speed camera operator is facing charges of possessing child pornography. Robert Frank Theunissen, 65, appeared before the registrar in Rotorua District Court this week. He did not enter pleas to 20 charges - including possessing child pornography that included graphic images of children and women involved in bestiality. The charges relate to Theunissen having the images in his possession between June 29, 2008 and February 9 this year and include both digital movies and still photographs.
Theunissen was a constable in the Rotorua police for several years before retiring from duties. He then took a job as a non-sworn member of the Rotorua police staff, undertaking the role of operating mobile speed cameras. Mr Theunissen has been stood down from his job on full pay since April until his court case had been sorted out. The Daily Post revealed in April a former Rotorua police officer was under investigation for child pornography. Neither police nor Theunissen would comment when approached by The Daily Post in April.
Theunissen was remanded at large to appear in the registrar's court on July 23. His arrest comes eight months after former Rotorua St John Ambulance paramedic Robin Andrew was sentenced to nine months' home detention after pleading guilty to 13 charges of possessing child pornography. Andrew, 61, was charged after Brazilian police notified New Zealand authorities about a website which was accessed by Kiwi users downloading images and movies depicting child pornography.
Date of Birth
Possessing objectionable material (x18) - found with images and movies of child sex abuse and images of bestiality involving women
At large in Rotorua
Fined $1000 and $260 court costs in January 2010
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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