Dunedin sex offender released under strict conditions

Warning – Graphic content

A Dunedin student who wrote online about his depraved desires to rape babies has been released from prison.

But Benjamin Todd Whitcombe, 24, may not taste true freedom for several years.

The Parole Board released him a couple of weeks ago, but it noted the man had been earmarked by Corrections for an Extended Supervision Order.

That could mean up to 10 years under the spotlight of the department, with potentially arduous restrictions such as GPS monitoring.

Panel convener Judge Geoffrey Ellis said Whitcombe would be on parole at shared accommodation in Dunedin.

Most of the other residents would also be men who had graduated the Kia Marama sex-offender treatment programme.

Whitcombe was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment before the Dunedin District Court in September 2018 on four charges of exporting objectionable publications and one each of importing, making, possessing and possessing objectionable publications for the purpose of supply.

He had been sentenced to home detention for similar offending three years earlier.

He came to the attention of Canadian authorities through his use of a messaging app, using the name ”Philosophers Stone”, and later analysis of his phone found he uploaded four publications depicting the sexual exploitation of a child.

An investigation by New Zealand Customs showed the crimes had taken place at a north Dunedin address and at his parents’ home, the court heard at sentencing.

When his house was raided, Whitcombe said he knew the child-abuse material was ”bad” and that he had used the app since he was 14 to communicate with people around the world.

On Tumblr, Whitcombe went by the name ”wandering philosopher” and messaged 128 other users over two years.

His bio said: ”Into everything and anything twisted … Looking forward to conversing with the like-minded sick freaks on here. 18+.”

Some conversations, in which he expressed a desire to rape babies, were so graphic court documents had to be redacted.

Court documents described how Whitcombe had been communicating with a 15-year-old whom he encouraged to engage in sex acts with an animal and later received photos showing such activity.

Those images were later distributed by the defendant, using an anonymous file-sharing app.

While in prison, Whitcombe had been a low-security inmate and had accrued no misconducts.

He had made “good progress” working outside the wire and had completed educational programmes while behind bars.

“His underlying risk factors were identified as offence-related sexual arousal, substance abuse, offending-supportive attitudes and entitlement and unstable lifestyle,” Judge Ellis said.

Whitcombe’s parole conditions include:

– To live at an approved Dunedin address
– To comply with accommodation rules
– To abide by a 10pm-6am curfew until mid-August
– To attend an assessment and any prescribed treatment or counselling
– Not to possess alcohol or non-prescription drugs
– Not to possess any internet-capable device unless approved by Probation
– To disclose to Probation the start of any intimate relationship
– To inform Probation of any changes in employment status
– Not to contact any victim of offending
– Not to have contact with anyone under 16.

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