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CDPP v Hunter (a pseudonym) [2022] VCC 1576

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 1 count of using a carriage service to access child abuse material contrary to s 474.22 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code (Charge 1), 2 counts of possessing child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service contrary to s 474.22A of the Commonwealth Criminal Code (Charges 2-3) and 1 count of failing to comply with the conditions of a Recognisance Release Order by committing the indicted offences during the period of the order.

Guilty Plea: Plea was entered at the very earliest opportunity, having been entered at committal mention stage, and has significant utilitarian value. Plea – considered in light of offender’s cooperation, limited admissions in the record of interview and conversations with psychologist – is indicative of an acceptance of responsibility and level of remorse. A substantial discount is warranted for offender’s plea of guilty.

Nature and Circumstances: Offending is objectively serious and falls well above the lowest end of offending of this type. Charge 1 is a rolled-up charge covering a period of approximately 6 weeks. Offender specifically and deliberately accessed a total of 13,087 child abuse material riles on 918 separate occasions. Charge 2 involved the possession of 46 child abuse images of offender’s partner’s sister. While these photos were screenshots which had been isolated at the time of original offending and were not of the most depraved kind, offender’s continued possession constituted an ongoing significant breach of trust with respect to their victim, elevating the gravity of this offence. Charge 3 involved the possession of a further 326 child abuse material files of unidentified children. Offending took place in circumstances where offender had been out of custody for less than 12 months in respect of similar offending and was a registrable offender. Charge 1 is the most serious due to the volume of material accessed and prolific manner in which offender accessed that material. Charge 3 is objectively slightly more serious than charge 2 given the number and nature of images possessed.

Recognisance Release Order: Operational period of RRO was from 12 July 2019 to 12 July 2022. Offender’s compliance with the requirements of the order up to 8 August 2021 is to be taken into account. Given the nature of the new offending and length of the terms of imprisonment which must be imposed for the new offences, combined with the period which was left on offender’s RRO at the time of re-offending, the only appropriate option for the breach is to revoke the RRP and re-impose the outstanding period of imprisonment. Care has been taken to avoid any double punishment by not aggravating the sentences to be imposed on the new offending.

Rehabilitation: While offender has some prospects for rehabilitation, given they are starting to gain some insight into their offending and are willing to engage in treatment, any assessment of long-term rehabilitation must be guarded. Offender’s current offending in circumstances where they had already undertaken a sex offenders treatment program in custody and spent a substantial period of time in custody. Psychologist has also assessed offender as present with a sexual deviance and being a moderate to high risk of re-offending.

Offender sentenced to 7 years and 6 months imprisonment, to be eligible for release on parole after a minimum 5 years and 2 months imprisonment.
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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