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Director of Public Prosecutions v Gottaas-Hughes [2023] ACTSC 85

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 1 count of using a carriage service to access child pornography material contrary to s 474.19(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, 1 count of using a carriage service to access child abuse material contrary to s 47.22(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, and 1 count of possessing child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service contrary to s 474.22A of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Offender was also sentenced for territory sex offences.

Nature and Circumstances: The Commonwealth offences of possession of child abuse material and child pornography are moderately serious versions of their respective offence types. The material was possessed for offender’s own sexual gratification and the nature of the material involved real children, who were aged between 8 months and 14 years. The offender was in possession of a large number of electronic files, consisting of 670 images and 711 videos. The total duration of the video files was over four days and no less than 200 real children were depicted in the material. The files were possessed on three different devices. On two of these devices, VPN and other software intended to conceal the location and usage of the user, were installed.

Youth: Offender was just over 18-years-old when they committed the Commonwealth offences. They had no prior convictions and had frequent exposure to internet pornography from age 12. Offender’s frequent exposure to child pornography at a young age occurred when they were too young to fully appreciate the insidious effects of child pornography or the devastating harm that it causes to its victims. The offender’s youth and frequent exposure to child pornography contributed to the offending conduct, their moral culpability for the offences is accordingly reduced.

Rehabilitation: The offender has already voluntarily embarked upon an intensive program of treatment in the community. Offender now has genuine remorse for their conduct. Offender also recognises the harm caused by child pornography offences. They have expressed determination to never engage in such conduct again and are actively engaged with treating psychologists to ensure that they do not reoffend. Offender has good prospects of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation must carry significant weight in the sentencing of young offenders.

Offender sentenced to 10 months imprisonment in respect of the Commonwealth offences.
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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