Troy Skinner case: NZ man jailed for 21 years in US for child pornography after home invasion ordeal

A 28-year-old New Zealand man has been sentenced to 21 years in prison in the US for the production of child pornography of a 13-year-old girl he met online and travelled across the world to see in an attempted home invasion.

Troy Skinner made headlines in 2018 after travelling thousands of kilometres from Auckland to the US state of Virginia and being shot while trying to smash his way into the home of the teenage girl.

On June 22, 2018, Skinner attempted to break into the then 14-year-old girl’s home in the township of Goochland by smashing a paving stone through a glass window, before the girl’s mother shot him in the neck.

Skinner fled from the house but collapsed in a neighbour’s yard, where he was apprehended by members of the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office.

Today, the US Department of Justice sentenced Skinner to 21 years in prison for the production of child pornography of the girl he met on an online gaming site when she was 13-years-old.

New Zealand investigators had executed a search warrant of Skinner’s apartment following his US arrest and conducted a forensic examination of the defendant’s laptop.

They provided to US investigators a thumb drive containing 120 videos and 56 image files depicting the under-age victim.

Skinner’s case did not go to trial after he took a plea deal, accepting he manufactured child sex abuse material featuring the 13-year-old girl.

According to court documents, between February and March 2018, Skinner “interacted with a minor child online and used the child to produce numerous videos and image files of child pornography”.

Skinner’s other charges relating to his attempted home invasion and alleged kidnapping were dropped due to his plea deal.

But there was still a mandatory 15-year minimum sentence for his charge of manufacturing child pornography.

Skinner’s lawyers tried to argue that Skinner embarked on the “relationship” in New Zealand, where the age of consent was 16 and when he genuinely believed his sexual engagement with RD was legal.

The 13-year-old victim had initially told Skinner she was 16 years old when they met on online gaming platform Steam in December 2017. The platform aims to operate as a global network of gamers, building functions into its system that encourage community and communication.

Right at the outset, evidence showed Skinner initially believed she was 18. “Nope, I’m 16,” she responded. Skinner replied: “Americans always act older than they are.”

There were thousands of pages of chats between the two over the following months. There were also obscene internet memes and, in one case, disturbing rape “fan fiction” featuring a teacher and a student.

Evidence in the case showed they exchanged sexually explicit images. When the sexual contact occurred during video calls, Skinner would capture and save the video without the girl’s knowledge.

In late January 2018, they talked about meeting in real life. And they talked of the age of consent. Skinner talked of her coming to New Zealand: “It’s 16 in New Zealand. It would be fine. It’s 16,” he told her.

Not here in the US, she replied. If she’s under 18, then he would have to be under 21.
In March 2018, Skinner’s victim told him she had celebrated her 17th birthday – in reality, her 14th birthday.

On June 20, 2018, Skinner flew out of Auckland for Washington Dulles International Airport, about 40 kilometres west of Washington DC. Arriving on June 21, he bought a Greyhound bus ticket to Richmond.

Travelling the next day to the rural township of Goochland where his victim lived, Skinner approached the house with duct tape, pepper spray and a folding pocket knife.

His first attempt was through a sliding glass door into the basement. He failed but his efforts alerted the girl and her mother. Alarmed, the pair retreated upstairs, where the mother called the girl’s father.

The girl’s mother took with her a pistol and confronted Skinner as he tried to enter through a different door.

Ignoring warnings to leave, he picked up a paving stone and hurled it through a window, smashing a pane. As Skinner reached inside the house, his upper body inside the door and hand stretching for the interior lock, the girl’s mother fired two shots, hitting him in the neck.

When officers of the Goochland Country Sheriff arrived, they found Skinner lying in a neighbour’s yard.

Nearby, they found his two mobile phones. On one, he had the copy of a graphic sexual video.

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