Wellington, New Zealand (AP) — One of New Zealand’s most famous businessmen admitted on Thursday that they had images of child sexual abuse, including a two-year-old child.
Ron Brierley’s petition for three indictments in Australian courts triggered a rarely called procedure to strip him of the Knights, which he received more than 30 years ago.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said he has begun the confiscation process in honor. This requires the approval of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
Brierley faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced. He found some images in his luggage at Sydney International Airport in 2019, and authorities later found more images at his home in Sydney.
One of his guilty plea is related to a photo of a 2-year-old girl in a pose that suggests sexuality. The other is about a data storage device found at home that allegedly contains over 1,600 images of child abuse.
Brierley’s lawyer has challenged the number of images in question, and neither side has yet submitted a set of facts agreed upon in a Sydney court. Police prosecutors have withdrawn 14 other charges following Brierley’s conviction.
Brierley, now 83, undertook a series of aggressive business operations in the 1970s and 1980s at Brierley Investments Ltd. Has grown into one of the largest companies in the country. Although his profile declined somewhat after the 1987 stock market crash, he continued to do business in New Zealand and his new home, Australia.
Business publication NBR lists Brierley among the 100 wealthiest people in New Zealand, with an estimated wealth of NZ $ 220 million ($ 153 million).
He donated an undisclosed amount to his former high school, Wellington College. The school said it had begun to remove all signs bearing Brierley’s name, including theaters and sports venues, following a guilty plea.
The court has not yet set a judgment date. Brierley’s bail conditions require him to live in his home at Sydney’s exclusive Point Piper. After the ruling, he will be added to the New South Wales Child Protection Register for at least eight years.
Brierley, who looked frail in court and walked with a cane, did not answer questions from reporters about his plea, and his lawyer was not immediately asked for comment.
Dennis Ritchie, a longtime activist against sexual violence against women and children, said Ardern welcomed the move to strip Brierley’s Knights.
“As a result of this predator’s actions, the lives of young people have been irreparably damaged. This is an abominable deal of children’s rape and molestation, supported by the demands of men.”