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DPP v Augustine [2022] VCC 1419

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, 1 count of using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material contrary to s 474.22 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 474.22 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Nature and Circumstances: Objective seriousness of counts 1 and 2 is at the lower end of the scale of objective seriousness for the offences charged. The conversations and exchanges occurred over a short period. The number of images is relatively small, and the exchange was only between the offender and one other. Objective seriousness of count 3 is below mid range, but not significantly so. The number of discrete images and videos is significant, being 837 individual images and 65 individual videos.

Rehabilitation: Offending occurred in the context of significant alcohol and drug abuse however this did not cause the offender’s interest in child pornographic material. Alcohol and drug abuse reduced the offender’s inhibitions to the extent they felt it was appropriate to indulge in their perverted and harmful fantasies. Being intoxicated does not excuse the offender’s behaviour nor reduce their moral culpability. Almost immediately after being apprehended, offender sought professional assistance and has attended at least 25 sessions with a psychologist. Since seeking therapy, offender has not been drinking or using illicit substances. Offender has come to understand the reality of the child abuse material industry and the pain, damage and trauma inflicted upon children depicted in such imagery. Offender currently poses a moderate to low risk of recidivism for sexual reoffending and low risk of general reoffending. To put this in context, offender is at about the same level for most sex offenders at this stage of the sentence proceeding but slightly higher than the average offender facing only online charges. Offender has good prospects of rehabilitation provided they continue with therapy.

Contrition: Offender has done everything possible to change their deleterious behaviour since being apprehended. Offender’s remorse is genuine, and they have taken their offending and guilt seriously. Offender’s letter to court shows they now understand the serious nature of the offending and that, to some extent, their risk of reoffending has been reduced. This is an excellent start. However, general deterrence and proportionate punishment remain significant considerations which only a term of imprisonment can satisfy.

Offender sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, to be released after 4 months on a recognisance of $5,000 to be of good behaviour and with conditions for 3 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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