Legal Consequences of Possessing Child Abuse Material

Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

A former relief teacher from South Australia who was caught with over 40 images and videos of child exploitation/abuse material will never teach children again, a court has been told.

Dylan McCrossin, 39, appeared before Adelaide’s District Court on Wednesday 24 February 2021 for a pre-sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to three offences relating to possessing child exploitation material.

The ex-teacher, who worked at seven schools across metropolitan Adelaide, was arrested in June 2020 after police seized his laptop and desktop computer, leading to their discovery of 46 images and videos of child abuse material.

At his pre-sentencing hearing, Prosecutor Amy Fisher advised the court that most of the material fell in the worst categories for child abuse.

Ms Fisher necessitated Mr McCrossin be immediately jailed for his offences, which she highlighted were “not victimless”.

It was also hear that most of the material on the man’s laptop involved children under the age of 14.

Mr McCrossin is awaiting sentencing, which will take place in April. 

 

Court Hears Mr McCrossin “Stuffed Up His Life” and is “Remorseful”

During the former teacher’s hearing, his defence team said the man did not expect leniency, however urged Judge Ian Press to suspend any jail term or order his sentence to be served on home detention.

The court heard that his Mr McCrossin had made a monumental mistake by accessing the material and had “stuffed up his life”, acknowledging that the South Australia’s Teacher Registration Board had cancelled his registration to teach.

“He will be forbidden from being a teacher — he’s socially isolated himself from the rest of his family and friends,” Mr Caldicott said.

“He’s remorseful.

“He’s let himself down by what he’s done, he’s let down his family, he’s let down his colleagues and he’s let down the community.”

The court also heard that Mr McCrossin was “sexualised at a young age”, which he escaped by turning to playing online games.

“His online gaming was classified as an addiction,” Mr Caldicott said.

“He’s got a difficulty interacting with some adults.”

The ex-teacher has been classified by a psychologist as a paedophile and has been placed on the child sex offender register.

 

What is Child Abuse Material?

Child abuse material refers to any offensive material – images or videos – of real children being sexually exploited at the point the image or movie is produced, which depicts or describes either:

  • A child that is the victim of physical abuse, torture or cruelty, or
  • A child engaged in a sexual activity or a sexual pose, or
  • A child in the presence of another person that is engaged in a sexual activity or sexual pose, or
  • The private parts of a child

According to NSW Police, such images or videos are deemed “crime scene pictures” and “should be considered in this fashion”.

In NSW, the Child Exploitation Internet Unit along with other Law Enforcement Agencies and organisations deal with the protection of children – both within Australia and overseas.

The Child Exploitation Internet Unit investigates the sexual exploitation of children, which is facilitated through the use of the internet and telecommunication systems.

The body’s main roles include:

  • Maintaining professional networks with other State, National and International Law Enforcement bodies and external agencies involved in investigation of computer facilitated sexual exploitation of children
  • Conducting investigations to identify people utilising the internet to groom and procure children for sexual exploitation
  • Conducting investigations into the production, dissemination and possession of images of child sexual exploitation facilitated by the internet and telecommunication systems
  • Coordinating the NSW Police response to matters relating to child sexual exploitation referred from external law enforcement agencies
  • Assisting with community awareness and education on the safe use of the internet.

Child Abuse Material Offences

Possession or production of child abuse material carries maximum penalties reaching 15-years in jail if it’s done with the intention that the material be used by that person or another person in accessing, making it available, publishing it, distributing it, transmitting it, advertising it, promoting it or soliciting it, according to sections 474.23 and 474.20 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995.

In NSW, under section 91H of the Crimes Act 1900, it is an offence to produce, disseminate or possess child exploitation material – which is also understood as child pornography or child abuse material. The maximum penalty for any such offence is 10 years in jail.

In assessing the seriousness of the offence and determining the appropriate penalty, the court can also factor elements such as the age of the children involved, the kind of sexual activity that was depicted and the seriousness of the cruelty portrayed.

Generally speaking, the younger the child and the more explicit the material is, the more serious the offending is considered.

For the purpose of this Act, a child is someone who is under 16 years of age.

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