An estate agent who allegedly organized a sex tour to Thailand told police he knew it was dangerous but he wanted the money.
The 47-year-old, who has name suppression, is on trial at the High Court at Auckland.
He is the first person in New Zealand to face charges of organizing and promoting child sex tours. It is alleged he offered the tours through his website.
The estate agent does not dispute creating the website but his lawyer Chris Wilkinson-Smith says it was innocent and only for travel.
He said an undercover police officer was the man’s one and only customer in the three years the website had been operating.
The estate agent was arrested after the undercover police officer, using the name Michael Gray, met him and pretended to be interested in travelling to Thailand to have sex with boys.
Mr Gray was wearing a wire and the conversations were recorded.
The court was told the estate agent was initially reluctant to discuss sex with boys but later told Mr Gray: “I mean, the thing is, you know, like for instance, you could probably take a 13-, 14-, year-old boy back to a hotel, but not every hotel.”
Shortly before the estate agent was arrested he was interviewed by Detective George Grove, who questioned him about the recorded conversations.
The DVD of that police interview was played to the court today.
In it, the accused man said: “… firstly, he’s offering me money to take him on the tour and I wanted the money. He’s saying he wants something underage. I’m saying it’s dangerous, but I wanted the money”.
The estate agent told Mr Grove he hoped that once he showed Mr Gray Thailand, Mr Gray would then “not need to go down that path”.
“I mean, I was obviously stupid and crazy,” the estate agent said in the police interview.
Mr Grove also asked him about photos of young Thai boys he had allegedly shown to Mr Gray, one of whom he had described as “yummy”.
“I don’t know. I don’t really want to talk about those particular things,” the man replied.
The estate agent was arrested soon after.
During cross-examination, Mr Wilkinson-Smith asked Mr Grove why police did not interview a friend of his client, who could corroborate that he was “quite anti” tour.
Mr Grove responded that the estate agent was arrested as a result of the police interview and the decision was made there and then.
The trial continues.
Ana Wong – Chiangrai Times