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R v Barber [2021] ACTSC 78

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 2 counts of using a carriage service to access child pornography material contrary to s 474.19(1)(i) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, 2 counts of using a carriage service to access child abuse material contrary to s 474.22(a)(i) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 2 counts of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service contrary to s 474.22A of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.  

Nature and Circumstances: Count 4 involved possession of more than 4500 files across five devices. The other charges involved significantly less material. In relation to Count 4, approximately one quarter of the files contained Category 4 or 5 imagery and a significant quantity of category 2 and 3 material. There is no suggestion that material was possessed for purpose of sale or further distribution. Absence of any other motive and repeated offending establishes that the motive for offending was sexual gratification. Material depicted approximately 100 different victims. Count 4 was offence of substantial objective seriousness and other offences were of significant objective seriousness.  

Specific Deterrence: Offender acknowledged that they were concerned they may be unable to manage temptation when in the community and expressed an interest in attending sex offender treatment program. Offender described behaviour as an addiction that overwhelmed common sense and morality. Offender displayed insight about impact of their behaviour on child victims and the role such offending played in perpetrating victim abuse, but less insight into the reasons for offending conduct. Offender said they had no desire to have actual physical contact with young people but had restricted their movements in the community to minimise possible interaction with young people.  

Mental Condition: Offender suffers from depression and substance abuse disorders and such conditions may have reduced their impulse control. There is an interplay between offender’s generally disappointing and lonely life and the conditions of major depression and substance abuse disorder. These factors explain the commission offence but do not significantly reduce moral culpability.  

Rehabilitation: Risk level was assessed by psychologist and author of pre-sentence report but sentencing judge did not place substantial weight on those assessments as they are notoriously unreliable. The offender committed further offences while on conditional liberty which suggests that prospects of rehabilitation are quite uncertain. Offender appears to be an intelligent person who, contrary to comments made in some of the reports, does display significant insight into their situation.  

Offender sentenced to 2 years and 6 months imprisonment to be released on a recognisance release order after 15 months.
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