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DPP v Stockton [2020] VCC 1755

sentence — 3 counts of using carriage service to solicit child pornography material offence contrary to s 474.19(1) of Commonwealth Criminal Code — 1 count of possessing child abuse material offence contrary to s 474.22A(1) of Commonwealth Criminal Codeguilty plea — s 16A(2)(g) — plea entered at very earliest opportunity — significant utilitarian value in avoiding cost and delay of trial especially with disruption caused by COVID-19 — plea considered in light of cooperation and admissions is indicative of remorse and willingness to facilitate course of justice — nature and circumstances — s 16A(2)(a) — charge 1 is at lower end of solicitation charge — charges 2 and 3 involve persistent requests of victims of sexually explicit nature in circumstances where offender knew they were young girls — charge 2 involves multiple requests of victim to undertake multiple different acts — charge 3 involves offender encouraging child to go into bathroom and lock door so father does not know what victim is doing — while sentencing judge had strong suspicions that victims in charge 2 and 3 did expose themselves in some way judge could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on basis of conversations — offending not dealt with on basis it was one-off period of offending which ended 9 years ago — charge 4 was of serious nature — while percentage of category 5 files was minimal compared with category 1 files seriousness of category 5 images possessed is not reduced — no evidence offender possessed images for sale or passed them on — still serious example of offence of possession — mental condition — s 16A(2)(m) — psychologist reported three suicide attempts within days of being charged with offences — offender had long history of exposure to traumatic events in work — other psychologist was of view that offender ceased further attempts to solicit following offences in 2011 which is at odds with admissions in record of interview — finding did not lead to reduction in assessment of overall risk as was still rated as moderate risk factor — offender is motivated to undergo treatment and achieve change — offender has commenced on early steps to rehabilitation — offender needs further treatment for mental health and in relation to sexual offending — term of imprisonment will weigh more heavily on offender than someone without offender’s condition — serious risk term of imprisonment will have adverse impact on mental health exacerbated by impact of media reporting — despite mental health providing context within which offending occurred sentencing judge not of view that there is causal connection between mental health and offending such that moral culpability is reduced — sentencing judge not of view that mental health of such severity at offending or now that sentencing judge is required to reduce weight given to general deterrence — COVID-19 — offender would be subject to 14 day quarantine — offender found first 8 days of quarantine difficult and isolating — term of imprisonment during pandemic would lead to increased anxiety as to not only own health but health of family — current low numbers of infection in community does lessen impact — extra-curial punishment — weight to be given to extra-curial punishment depends on circumstances including nature of punishment and impact on offender — reporting has been inaccurate and inflammatory — inaccurate reporting has had some impact on mental health and will increase burden of imprisonment — other aspects of extra-curial punishment are all factors which would have arisen through nature of offending or were already taken into account through weight given to deterioration in mental health and need for ongoing rehabilitative support on release — general deterrence — s 16A(2)(ja) — other like-minded individuals must know engaging in such serious criminality will result in significant punishment — need to deter others from committing such offending — in offending involving child abuse material subjective circumstances must not be allowed to overshadow objective seriousness — rehabilitation — s 16A(2)(n) — requirement to have specific regard to rehabilitation does not override requirement that sentence be of severity appropriate in all circumstances — offender sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment to be released on recognisance release order after serving 5 months
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