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R v Dregmans [2022] NSWDC 55

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of possessing or controlling child abuse material and using a carriage service to obtain or access that material contrary to s 474.22A(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Nature and Circumstances: Offender raised that they did not understand the nature of the material that they were receiving and did not have any sexual interest in child but only agreed to receive the material from Ohrin to impress them. Offender’s evidence denying their appreciation of the nature of the material they received was singularly unconvincing. The two propositions raised by the offender were irreconcilable. The offender’s evidence that they did not know what Ohrin was talking about and urging upon them – the receipt of child pornography – cut across their position that they had gone along with the conversation and agreed to receive the material, since the offender thought this would enhance their prospects of another sexual encounter with Ohrin. Maintaining these positions undermined the offender’s credibility. When one reads the conversation in context, the subject matter was all about underage sexual activities. Offender anticipated the nature or character of the material they expected to receive from Ohrin as being child abuse material. Offending fell in the low end of the range of seriousness, but was not at the lowest end.

Rehabilitation: The thrust of the psychologist’s report did not depend upon acceptance of the offender’s explanation for their motive. The findings were underpinned by acceptance that the offender accepted responsibility for their offending, was remorseful and had a subjective view of the seriousness of what they did. But this was not inconsistent with the findings of this Court. Full weight can and should be given to the psychologist’s views on the unlikelihood of the offender having any deviant sexual interest and absence of any need for intervention to target sexual offending or general mental health. Offender does not have a sexual interest in children and could not be at risk of acting on it. Offender’s rehabilitation prospects are good.

Hardship: Two articles were published which was accepted to have an available imputation that the offender was a member or participant in a child abuse network which had international dimensions. Offender referred to the effect of newspaper articles and social media on them, including anxiety and paranoia, loss of sleep, shame and embarrassment. A deterioration in the offender’s mental condition can be taken to relate to the media/social media reporting. There was a very clear connection in the news articles between the offender and a paedophile ring where there is nothing to suggest that the offender engaged in such acts. Given that the (limited) media reporting conflated the offender’s conduct with other offending, this extra-curial punishment weighs in favour of a reduced need for retribution. Modest weight is to be given because of the inherent nature of the offending, which was inherently likely to spark adverse media reporting, and the limited number of newspaper reports.

Recognizance Release Order: Offender successfully submitted that exceptional circumstances were established. Offending was objectively at the low end of the scale of seriousness; they present otherwise as a person of good character with good prospects of rehabilitation and is at a low risk of re-offending; they have already suffered some extra-curial punishment flowing from adverse and inaccurate media reporting which meets any requirement for retribution. A sentence of imprisonment is to be imposed, but the offender is to be released immediately. It is appropriate for the offender to receive continued psychological support.

Offender sentenced to 2 years imprisonment, to be released immediately upon entering a recognisance of a $5,000 good behaviour bond without security and subject to conditions. Discount of 25% warranted for the substantial utilitarian value of the offender’s guilty plea.
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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