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DPP v Collins (a pseudonym) [2021] VCC 2046

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service contrary to the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Nature and Circumstances: While over 35,000 files were found nearly 24,000 were not child exploitation material. Offending involved 11,493 child exploitation files, the vast majority of 7,457 files in category 6 (animated material) ranging from very young infants to teenagers involved in sexual acts. The viewing of animated material is not harmless and may not be victimless, but animated material is different from other categories involving real children, although not substantially different. Offender possessed a significant quantity of child exploitation material, 4,036 images, involving real child victims subjected to shocking abuse. Lengthy period of possible possession of child abuse material for 13 years or so is relevant to showing the offending was not an isolated event. Offending is at a significant level of seriousness.

Antecedents: Offender sought assistance from their doctor in early 2020, seeking a Mental Health Care Plan, but further progress was prevented by COVID restrictions. Offender began to have some insight into the wrongfulness of looking at child exploitation material, however this was not ‘integrated insight’. Because of the offender’s connection of their own childhood sexual abuse to the initial viewing of child exploitation material, their whole sexual development was contaminated, and without professional assistance, it was difficult to untangle this connection, even more so as the sexual abuse by their neighbour was a continuum from the offender’s early childhood to only 2 to 3 years ago. Offender’s history of sexual abuse as a child provides an explanation for, and contributed to, their own criminality and impaired their ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct. Offender’s moral culpability is reduced and arises from the consequences of their own childhood sexual abuse, not from an automatic reduction of sentence because of an unfortunate childhood experience. Need for general and specific deterrence is somewhat moderated, denunciation is less relevant. Offender’s circumstances of a history of clinical difficulties and a challenging childhood and home life, against a background of ongoing sexual abuse from the age of 5 or 6 to their early 20s with the perpetrator of that abuse introducing them to child and adult pornography in their sexually formative years, are exceptional.

Offender sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, to be released immediately on a recognisance release order with conditions of a good behaviour bond for 2 years and continuing treatment with a psychologist.
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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