What the Law Says about Possessing Child Abuse Material in Australia

 

It is reported that 54-year-old Reinier Jessurun who worked as a teacher at a Sydney boys’ school at Newington College at Stanmore has downloaded thousands of child abuse material images in addition to sending some of them via an online identity.

He continued working as a teacher at the prestigious school until he was stood down when arrested in April 2018.

Following the execution of search warrants by police in his Edgecliff apartment and in Stanmore, 7574 child abuse material images were discovered in his computer, a hard drive, thumb drive in addition to duplicates, which was outlined in the agreed set of police facts.

He used “Natisha Matzkovko” as his online identity with multiple Google and a Yahoo account which he used to send over 30 images using Chat messaging services.

He is reported telling officers during a recorder interview, “I admit I’ve done it, I’m here for full disclosure.”

He claimed that the multiple email accounts were created because he was lonely while attempting to develop a fictional character of Natisha Matzkovko.

He also claimed “he was delving deeper into the psychology of the fictional character of his book” said District Court Judge Penelope Hock.

“He stated that he would go online to a chat room and randomly chat to different people assuming her identity.”

While he transmitted numerous images to other people, he also conceded that it was also for sexual gratification.

Her Honour said, referring to the images she was required to view before sentencing the offender, that some depicted girls in “penetrative sexual activity with adult males.

The images were categorised into five categories of the Australian National Victim Image Library depicting female children in various naked poses.

Her Honour also said, “Having now done so, I am sceptical about the offender’s account as or the reasons of his offending… shocking… particularly disturbing”.

“Evidence established the offender clearly knew what he was doing was wrong.”

“He has of course lost his career and will never again be able to work in his chosen career, at least in respect of teaching children.”

The Headmaster of the boys’ school state, “Our students are always the primary concern of the college, and their welfare is above everything we do”. Mr. Michael Parker said to news.com.au.

Mr Parker also said, “The college has communicated with parents and counsellors continue to be available to any boys or families who need additional support as a result of this case. As someone who believes education is a critically important vocation, I am deeply troubled by crimes such as this. They are abhorrent and have no place in society.”

He was sentenced by the court to 18-months imprisonment with a 9-month non-parole period representing the minimum period of time he must spend in jail before being eligible for release on parole.

What the Law Says about Possessing Child Abuse Material in Australia

In Australia, regardless of which state you come from, it is a crime to possess child abuse material or child pornography as expressed in sections 474.23 and 474.20 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

‘Child abuse material’ is outlined in section 473.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) as material depicting someone or a representation thereof who appears to be under 18-years of age, who also appears to be a victim of physical abuse, cruelty or torture in a way that a reasonable person will consider it as offensive in the circumstances.

‘Child pornography’ on the other hand is outlined in section 473.1 Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) includes the following:

  1. Material depicting a sexual organ or anal region of someone that’s implied to be under 18-years of age or explaining the breasts of a person implied to be under 18-years of age in a way that a reasonable person will consider it offensive; or
  2. Material depicting or implying someone to be under 18-years of age engaging in sexual activity or pose or in the presence of some else engaging in such conduct, in a way that a reasonable person will regard it as offensive; or
  3. Material depicting a dominant characteristic depicting a sexual organ, anal region, representation of this, or the breasts of someone for a sexual purpose who appears to be under 18-years of age, in such a way that a reasonable person will regard as offensive; or
  4. Material depicting someone or representing someone engaging or appearing to engage in sexual activity or pose, or depicting or representing someone who is in the presence of another person who is engaging in such activity or conduct who appears to be under 18-years of age, in a way that a reasonable person will regard as offensive.

Anyone who with a carriage service possesses, produces, supplies or obtains ‘child abuse material’ with an intention to use the material or intention for it to be used by someone else, will face a maximum penalty of 15-years imprisonment (section 474.23 Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)).

Further, anyone who with a carriage service possesses, controls, produces, supplies or obtains ‘child pornography material’ with the intention to use it or the intention for someone else to use it will face a maximum penalty of 15-years imprisonment (section 474.20 Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)).

A ‘carriage service is a service of sending, holding or receiving communications through either guided or unguided electromagnetic energy. For example, a disc, internet host service or phone.

Some defences to this charge, which will result in a ‘not guilty’ verdict or withdrawal of the charge early, include the following:

  1. You did it for a public benefit, in the sense it was necessary or of assistance in enforcing a relevant law, for monitoring compliance or investigating someone breaking the law, or for a scientific, medical or educational research approved by the Australian Federal Police Minister; or
  2. You did it in the course of discharging your duties as a law enforcement officer, intelligence officer or security officer, if your conduct is considered reasonable for the purpose of discharging that duty; or
  3. You did it in good faith to manufacture, develop or update content filtering technology.

As the Court treat child abuse material or child pornography material seriously, it is recommended to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer if ever facing such a charge.

Our team consists of Australia’s leading criminal lawyers around Sydney who appear across all courts.

Call our team for a free consultation 24/7 on (02) 8606 2218.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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