Name removal lifted for GM who repeatedly raped young girl and filmed it
The chief executive of a Christchurch-based firm who repeatedly raped a young girl and filmed himself abusing her has dropped his name-dropping bid.
Wayne Smith, the former boss of public transportation technology company Connect, dropped his name-dropping offer on Wednesday night, his lawyer confirmed.
Smith was due to appear in court on Thursday for an appeal against the name removal.
The 53-year-old was jailed for 17 years in February after pleading guilty to 38 child sex charges, including filming himself sexually raping a child.
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The charges include rape and unlawful intercourse with a woman under 12, committing an indecent act on a child under 12, and possession of objectionable publications.
Smith was named Connect’s Managing Director in October 2018 after holding international leadership roles at Airways, Thales and Hewlett Packard. He was previously CEO of Aeropath.
While employed as CEO of Connexionz, he was neither a director nor a shareholder.
The company’s international headquarters are based in Christchurch with a customer support center in California and a sales office in Colorado.
In its 2019 annual report, Connexionz said Smith was a “business veteran” with significant experience leading and growing international technology companies. He was “particularly qualified for this position”.
“Wayne brings with him an impressive track record of successful partnerships around the world, growing, rapidly expanding into new markets and acquiring new customers for the large and small businesses he has served,” the report said.
“Its success is built on a strategy that prioritizes going beyond culturally diverse global locations to build high-performing teams of exceptional technology experts, and always acting in the best interest of the customer.”
Smith had lived and worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and managed international projects in the United States of America, New Zealand, Australia, China, Europe, Africa and many Southeast Asian countries, the company said.
In the company’s 2021 annual report, executive chairman Tony Kan wrote that Smith was no longer with the company due to a “personal matter”.
“I have assumed his duties and responsibilities as Executive Chairman. We started an executive search program to find a replacement. At the time of this writing (August 2021), I am delighted to see that he has built a highly functional and efficient management team and that on a daily basis, our customers are in good hands.
In a statement on Wednesday, Connexionz executive chairman Tony Kan said the company had been absolved by the Crown of any connection to Smith’s offence. There was also no evidence that the offense occurred at work or during working hours.
Smith had been chief executive for two and a half years when he was removed from his role by the Connectz board on July 1, 2021, as he could no longer fulfill his role due to the serious charges.
Kan said his 23 employees were “extremely shocked and devastated” when they heard about the charges.
“Some were crying, some were incredibly angry and upset, many just couldn’t believe it because there was absolutely no indication that anything like this was happening in his private life,” he said. .
“We offered professional trauma counseling to everyone that was widely embraced. Naturally, we wanted assurance that no recording devices had been installed on our premises and a thorough scan found none.
In refusing to have the name removed at sentencing, Judge Neave said that although there was some risk of self-harm, he did not believe it arose from the publication of his name.
He felt the defendant was “putting a gun to the temples of the court”, blackmailing them into having his name covered up.
“I find that to be an unattractive approach.”
The summary of facts indicates that Smith began treating the girl, aged under 10, almost immediately after meeting her.
He regularly engaged in behavior with “sexually motivated intentions”.
He had installed several cameras to secretly film the victim, including in the bathroom.
All of the offenses occurred at Smith’s home. His son was in the room during a game.
“Sexual abuse has become so common that it has become routine and normalized for the victim,” the summary reads.
In one of the incidents, shortly before raping the girl, he told her, “It’s our big secret.”
On June 22, 2021, police searched Smith’s home. They seized 81 digital exhibits, including hard drives, laptops, SD cards and electronic devices.
Authorities found a sizable library of child exploitation material, including some from the victim. The 180,000 files on its devices date from 1996 to 2021.
Smith engaged with other online pedophiles. They watched child pornography together and commented on it.
Smith’s actions directly contributed to the increased victimization of children and fueled international demand for such images, according to the summary.
During a two-year trial ending in 2009, New Zealand’s Department of Home Affairs identified more than one million clicks on illegal child sex abuse websites.
Smith also pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual conduct with a child outside New Zealand.
It was linked to an incident in 2018 when he joined an online social platform and communicated with two girls aged between 7 and 10. The victims appeared to be in the United States, according to the summary.
Smith groomed the girls online and asked them to perform sex acts.
He declined to comment when questioned by police.
Since his arrest in June, Smith and Connexionz have been subject to interim restraining orders.
After Smith pleaded guilty, Connect announced that he no longer wished to continue with the order.
Smith’s attorney, Andrew McCormick, said his client still wants to keep his name a secret. He spoke of mental health issues following a suicide attempt in custody. McCormick requested that Smith be evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine the impact the publication of his name would have.
He added that the seriousness of the offense was particularly serious given Smith’s stature in the business world.
Crown prosecutor Deirdre Elsmore said Smith’s offense was “so brazen, so prolific” that police feared there were no more victims in the community.
She acknowledged the concerns raised by McCormick about Smith’s son, but noted that much of the offense occurred in the boy’s presence.
“Perhaps concerns should have been expressed at that time,” she said.
“It’s a bit late now.”
The victim’s family also opposed the crackdown.
The girl’s parents read statements about the impact of the offense during Smith’s sentencing.
His mother said the man had “taken his innocence, which can never be replaced”.
“The impact of this on our lives is endless.”
The trauma was ongoing and she worried about the impact the offense would have on her daughter in the future, including when she decided to date someone or when she became a mother.
“You may have made my daughter a victim, but I can assure you that I will make sure she is a survivor for the rest of my life.”
The girl’s father also spoke out, recalling the time he received a phone call from Christchurch Police Child Protection Team to say they had arrested a man for offending her daughter.
“A man I hate with every fiber of my being,” he said.
After receiving the call, he sat on the side of the road “collapsed”.
Since then, he had been stuck between feelings of anger and “overwhelming sadness”.
“I live in hell,” he said.
“I am constantly haunted by thoughts when I wake up in the middle of the night. When I think of his birthday and Christmas … I was buying him Barbies and bedtime stories and he was raping her,” he said.
“How could someone rape a child?… How long has my little girl suffered from this?”
The victim’s family said in an earlier statement to Thing they wanted to thank the police for their “help, support and thoroughness in obtaining a conviction”.
“There is no sentence long enough to make us feel that justice has been done.
“We have received tremendous support from the various agencies, medical staff and support staff we have dealt with over the past eight months. It has been so beneficial in an obviously stressful time. We encourage anyone who finds themselves in this painful situation to take full advantage of all the support offered. »
The “highly traumatic experience” for the family was not helped by the deletion of the defendant’s name.
“The fact that the justice system has allowed this to go on for so long is reprehensible. As victims, it made us feel that the rights of the accused are more important than ours.
“The fact that the defendant can be given clemency or an early plea discount for a crime of which he is so clearly guilty is a travesty and a mockery of our justice system.”
The family have called on the government to review name suppression laws and introduce tougher penalties for “horrendous crimes”, including possession of child pornography.