12 Dec 2016

Former Pitcairn mayor to challenge convictions at Privy Council

12:52 pm on 12 December 2016

The former mayor of the tiny Pacific island community of Pitcairn will take his fight against his conviction to the Privy Council in London.

Pitcairn Island

Michael Warren is the former mayor of Pitcairn Island. Photo: Sybil Sassoon / Robert Harding

In March, Michael Warren was found guilty of 20 charges relating to his collection of child abuse images and two charges of possessing other indecent items. He

is currently serving his 20-month jail sentence on Pitcairn for the offending, which included downloading more than 1000 child sex images and videos.

His lawyer, Tony Ellis, has been granted leave by the Pitcairn Court of Appeal to take the case to the Privy Council.

Mr Eills told RNZ the case could be heard either later next year or even in 2018.

At Warren's sentencing in March, Judge Arthur Tompkins said Warren showed no remorse and no insight into the effect on victims.

During the trial, the Crown said Warren downloaded much of the material while he was mayor of the tiny island.

In his official capacity, he made trips to New Zealand and the United Kingdom, where the Crown said he underwent child protection training in the aftermath of the 2004 Pitcairn sex abuse trials.

Two members of Pitcairn Island took just 45 minutes to find their former mayor had indecent material in his possession.

Two assessors - effectively a mini-jury - selected from its community of about 50 people agreed that an internet sex chat with a person purporting to be a 15-year-old school girl and a video of a bound, gagged naked woman were grossly indecent.

Judge Tompkins, who issued his finding separately, agreed with that verdict and convicted Warren of the two charges.

The Crown's case was that the chat encouraged a 15-year-old to carry out depraved actions.

The defence said the chat was only a collection of words and Warren was not charged with the actions.

Warren has also been convicted of a further 20 charges relating to hundreds of child sex images and videos.

During the trial, Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery referred to historic child sex abuse trials that took place in 2004.

In those cases, eight men were jailed for rape and sex abuse that had occurred on the island.

The assessors had a chance, 11 years later, to tell the world what was acceptable behaviour on the island, he said.

Warren's lawyer Graeme Edgeler argued there was nothing indecent about the online chat or the video.

The video was made with professional actors who had agreed to take part and put it on the internet, he said - and the online sex chat was so bizarre that it could not be real and was ridiculous.

The trial took place under the law of Pitcairn Island, which is a British territory about 540km east of French Polynesia.

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