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The King v Ferns [2022] QSC 220

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 3 counts of using a carriage service to access, transmit, or solicit child abuse material contrary to s 474.22(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, 1 count of committing an offence against s 474.22 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code on 3 or more occasions and where the commission of the offence involved 2 or more people contrary to s 474.24A(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, and 2 counts of using a carriage service to possess or control child abuse material contrary to s 474.22A of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Nature and Circumstances: Concerning count 1, offender transmitted 52 child abuse material files. The images and videos showed depraved acts. During text conversations with other users, offender expressed a desire to rape a baby. Count to concerns offender accessing 86 files of child abuse material and downloading 145 videos of child abuse material. Count 3 concerns soliciting child abuse material. This occurred on 2 occasions. Offender messages ‘Got any hot content to trade?’. The offence is complete even though no material was sent in response. Offender asked a user whether they had molested a newborn then requested the other user to send videos showing child abuse material. Count 5 involves 20 videos and 118 image files. Count 6 involves 178 videos found to be child abuse material. 146 of the videos were INTERPOL category 1 and 32 of the videos were category 2. 183 images were category 1. Count 4 involved offender participating in text conversations with 2 other users. During the conversations, offender transmitted child abuse material on 8 occasions.

Minimum Sentence: Under the Bahar approach, the sentencing judge looks to both the maximum and minimum sentences which are statutorily prescribed and uses both as part of the ‘yardstick’ against which to impose the appropriate sentence. R v Delzotto applied the Bahar approach. There is no reason not to follow the recent unanimous decision of the New South Wales Court of Criminal appeal in Delzotto.

Antecedents: Offender had a difficult childhood. Offender’s father was violent and abused drugs as did offender’s mother’s new partner. Offender has no real relationship with their father and has limited interactions with one of their younger brothers. Offender has a good work history in the Commonwealth Public Service for about 10 years.

Offender sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 8 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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