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CDPP v O’Connell [2023] VCC 1741

See full judgment: Austlii.

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 1 count of using a carriage service to procure a person believed to be under the age of 16 years contrary to s 474.26(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 1 count of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service contrary to s 474.22A(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Nature and Circumstances: Offender used chat applications to transmit conversations to a person whom offender was led to believe was a 14-year-old girl. In fact they were an undercover police officer. Offender transmitted those communications with the intention of procuring the person to engage in sexual relations with them. Offender possessed 4 images of child abuse material. 1 image was Category 1 and 3 images were Category 2. Offender’s moral culpability for both counts is considerable. Offender did not know that they were communicating with an undercover police officer. That there were no explicit images transmitted during those conversations, or a specific time and date for the meeting, and it was limited to 1 day, places count 1 at the lower level of offending of this kind. The possession offence was at the low end for offending for that offence.

Hardship: As a result of being charged, offender’s children were taken away from them. An intervention order was imposed limiting offender’s contract with them to a phone call once per fortnight initially, and now nothing. Offender was sacked from their employment which they had been engaged in for some 5 to 5 and a half years. Offender was out of the family home.

Rehabilitation: Since offender’s arrest, they have engaged in psychological treatment involving cognitive behavioural therapy and reflection on the reasons for offending and the effect of offending. Offender has also enrolled in a business studies course to assist offender in gaining skills to run their own business and re-engage with employment. These matters, combined with strong support from offender’s mother, step-father and three brothers leads to an assessment that offender’s prospects of rehabilitation are very good. Offender has activated and driven the rehabilitation process since their arrest under the cloud of the prospect of incarceration. Offender is generally remorseful for their offending. Offender has been specifically deterred by these proceedings.
Orders: Offender sentenced to 6 months imprisonment to be released immediately on recognizance of $1,000 to be of good behaviour for 2 years.

The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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