Knighted Millionaire Jailed For Just Over A Year For Possessing Thousands Of Child Abuse Images

Ronald Brierley Sentencing - AP/NZ Government, Office of the Governor-GeneralRona AP/NZ Government, Office of the Governor-General

One of New Zealand’s most well-known businessmen, Ronald Brierley, has been jailed for more than a year for possessing thousands of child sex abuse images.

On Thursday, October 14, the knighted millionaire was sentenced to prison by the Local Downing Centre Court in Sydney, after pleading guilty to the charges in April.

In 2019, Brierley was arrested at Sydney International Airport and confessed to having an obsession with young girls. In his airport luggage, tens of thousands of images were later found on devices, as well as at his Sydney home.

After pleading guilty in New South Wales state District Court earlier in the year, the 84-year-old businessman was released on bail.

A total of around 40,000 images were found as a basis for the convictions against Brierley, AP News reports.

It was argued by Brierley’s lawyers that the most suitable punishment for the convictions was a community penalty, rather than a prison sentence.

However, while the former businessman expressed regret over the indecent images and the harm of his actions, which Judge Sarah Huggett accepted, she still ruled that anything less than imprisonment would be ‘manifestly inadequate’.

Brierley also tried to argue that he had not known that such images were illegal.

Ron Brierley Sentencing 2- AP Photo/Rick RycroftAP Photo/Rick Rycroft

Brierley was subsequently given a prison sentence of 14 months, after facing a possible 10-year maximum. He also received a non-parole period of seven months.

During the sentencing, Huggett noted the sheer quantity of images in Brierley’s possession, how long the images had been in his possession for, his sexual obsession with young girls and just how many victims were involved.

Long-time campaigner in opposition of sexual violence against women and children, Denise Ritchie, praised Judge Huggett’s decision.

She said:

Offenders like Brierley fuel an abhorrent trade that requires children to be sexually degraded, exploited and violated in front of cameras. His countless girl victims will carry a psychological burden for the rest of their lives.

Ron Brierley sentencing- AP Photo/ Rick Rycroft AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

The offender has an estimated fortune of 220 million New Zealand dollars ($153 million) from his endeavours in Brierley Investments Ltd., which was one of New Zealand’s largest corporations in the 1970s and 1980s.

Huggett noted how the businessman’s ‘fall from grace’ had been ‘radical’.

Brierley was also stripped of his knighthood and Wellington College, a school he used to attend, has since removed his name from their sports field and theatre.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111