Suspended sentence for child porn

A MAGISTRATE has refused to release the name of a man who downloaded thousands of child porn images despite sentencing him to an 18-month suspended prison term.

Magistrate Nick Reimer in the Casino Local Court yesterday convicted the 25-year-old Lismore Heights man, who pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing an image containing child pornography.

However, Mr Reimer allowed a suppression order on the man’s name to remain in place, despite submissions from The Northern Star and the Director of Public Prosecutions asking that the order be lifted.

The original order had been made by another magistrate because of the man’s ‘mental state’– his lawyers said he was having suicidal thoughts – and because he had been attacked in the street after early reporting of the case.

After an outburst in the Lismore Local Court last month, the man was sent to Richmond Clinic for psychiatric evaluation. Doctors at the clinic found the man had no mental illness.

However, Mr Reimer yesterday said he lacked confidence in the public mental health unit and accepted a medical report from the man’s defence team saying he had suffered a mental illness and was responding well to medication.

Mr Reimer said it was the normal practice for the names of people charged with child porn offences to be available in open court, but in this case the man had a high public profile and would likely be the subject of ‘reprisals’ should his name be published.

The man’s defence team submitted five character references saying his behaviour was ‘out of character’.

Police raided the man’s home in March 2008 and seized three hard disc drives and a flash drive containing more than 19,000 pornographic images and four videos. Expert analysis of the drives found many, but not all, of the images were of girls aged under 16 and included girls aged between 13 and 14.

Mr Reimer noted the seriousness of the offence and the ‘vast amount of material put before the court’.

He sentenced the man to 18 months jail, wholly suspended provided the man was of good behaviour, abstained from cannabis, continued to consult his doctor, attend to any psychiatric problems and take his prescribed medications.

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