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Former teacher who ‘thought sexually about pupils’ has jail term reduced | #teacher | #children | #kids

Donna-Lee Biddle/Stuff

Graham Duncan Snell at his first appearance at Manukau District Court in 2020.

A former teacher caught knowingly bringing child sexual abuse material into the country has had his sentence reduced.

Former Nelson teacher Graham Duncan Snell, 42, was sentenced earlier this year to two years and five months behind bars, but will now only serve two years and two months after he appealed to the High Court.

In January 2020, Snell arrived at Auckland International Airport on a flight from Australia after spending a year in the United Kingdom on a sabbatical.

Following a referral from overseas agencies, he was questioned by Customs officers and a phone search found a number of objectionable publications depicting the sexual abuse of children.

* Man jailed for two years for bringing child sex abuse material into the country
* Former teacher denies possessing child sex abuse images
* School teacher arrested at Auckland Airport over ‘child sex images’

He was arrested at the airport for the importation and possession of objectionable publications.

A forensic search of his phone found more than 300 images and videos of child sexual abuse dating back to 2018, including 50 classified as the most extreme category of abuse.

A similar examination of his laptop uncovered various “objectionable publications”, as well as links to an online chat forum used by offenders to download, trade, and exchange child sexual exploitation material.

Snell’s laptop contained a folder named “Fitness”. In that folder there was a video of Snell’s interaction with a woman on a website.

“Needed to come back and see my little underage **** again xx,” Snell said in one of the messages.

Another file was a document which contained a number of links to or using TOR.


Robyn Salisbury, registered clinical psychologist, editor and contributor for ‘Free To Be Children, Preventing child sexual abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand’. (Video first published in March 2021)

TOR is a free, legal software which enables anonymous browsing and communication, but it is commonly used by people who have a sexual interest in children or other criminal interests, to avoid detection.

On appeal at the High Court at Auckland, Julie-Anne Kincade QC argued the sentencing judge at Manukau District Court, should have given greater discount to Snell.

She argued Snell should have been sentenced to a term of home detention given his otherwise good character and rehabilitative progress.

Prosecutor Tom Riley disagreed and said the sentence was commensurate with the seriousness of the offending.

Kincade said Snell’s instructions were he did not distribute any images or videos using TOR and only used it to browse.


Graham Snell had a catalogue of child sexual abuse material on his phone.

In the District Court, Judge David McNaughton said Snell had been on a path of sexual deviant exploration since childhood and had not just fallen down a rabbit hole.

“You were already in it and have been in it for some years, many years,” Judge McNaughton said.

In Justice Mathew Downs’ judgment, he said the judge was right not to award discount for good character.

“For now, it is sufficient to observe Mr Snell’s offending did not involve an isolated fall from grace. That he thought sexually about some of his pupils underscores a distinctly aberrant mindset, and one anathema to his public responsibilities,” Justice Downs said.

However, Justice Downs awarded more of a discount for Snell’s rehabilitative efforts.

Where to get help for sexual violence

  • If you are concerned that something you have seen may be objectionable or want to report a crime, you can report it to the Digital Child Exploitation team.
  • WellStop 04 566 4745
  • Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline 0800 842 846, text 4334, webchat or email
  • The Harbour Online support and information for people affected by sexual abuse.
  • Women’s Refuge 0800 733 843 (females only)
  • Male Survivors Aotearoa Helplines across NZ, click to find out more (males only)
  • If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 111.

Need help? If you or someone you know is in a dangerous situation, click the Shielded icon at the bottom of this website to contact Women’s Refuge in a safe and anonymous way without it being traced in your browser history. If you’re in our app, visit the mobile website here to access Shielded.

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