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      No jail for 100 child abuse material images & videos

      Our client was a 63-year-old small business owner who had been married for over 30 years.

      Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers executed a search warrant on his home and seized a number of computers, laptops, hard drives and an iPad.

      Following a forensic examination AFP officers discovered that the devices had contained approximately 100 child abuse material images and videos. These dated back ten years, although some of them had been deleted.

      Subsequently our client was charged with a number of offences of access and possess child abuse material.

      He was also placed on strict bail conditions which prevented him from accessing the internet for any purpose. This created serious difficulties for him as he was unable to work.

      He was advised by a number of other criminal lawyers that he could not do anything about his bail conditions and that jail was inevitable.

      We took a different view.

      Our team immediately got to work by filing a bail variation to allow our client to access the internet in connection with his employment as well as to communicate with us as his lawyers.

      We also immediately referred him to a forensic psychologist specialising in sex offending. The fact that he was able to commence treatment at an early stage proved decisive during the final sentencing hearing. This was because we were able to point to his many months of rehabilitation. Our psychologist also provided an opinion that a term of full-time imprisonment would risk undoing the rehabilitation he had achieved.   

      We also began negotiations with Police to reduce the number of charges and amend the Facts Sheet to paint our client in a more favourable light.

      Ultimately, the prosecution agreed to our amendments and the charges were reduced to a single charge of possess child abuse material.

      At the sentencing hearing, we made lengthy submissions stressing the significant rehabilitation the client had achieved and the evidence that a sentence of imprisonment would risk undoing this. We also noted that he still had strong family support from his wife.

      The prosecution argued that almost all persons who were charged with a similar number of child abuse material images were sentenced to jail and also noted that an intensive corrections order was not available for this offence.

      Despite strong opposition from the prosecution, the Magistrate ultimately accepted our submissions and sentenced our client to a community corrections order for three years.

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