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Porn ring accused denied bail

Date

Michael Inman

The Alexander Maconochie Centre.

The Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Jay Cronan

A man at the centre of allegations that convicted paedophiles are operating a pornography ring from within Canberra's jail has denied police accusations.

The man told an ACT Supreme Court bail hearing that equipment seized from his cell by police - including a boot drive and computer - could not override the jail's server, as alleged.

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Police raided the Alexander Maconochie Centre after receiving reports that prisoners obtained and shared pornographic material.

It is alleged that three prisoners, including two of the ACT's most dangerous child sex predators, were the ringleaders.

The court heard that police were investigating reports that a child pornography website was hosted from within the prison. Fairfax Media understands that digital TV set-top boxes, legitimately obtained with the knowledge of authorities, personal video recorders and USB portable hard drives were allegedly used to store and distribute the material.

Prisoners at the jail, which aims to be Australia's first human rights-compliant prison, have limited access to the internet.

A police witness told the bail hearing that some adult pornography had been uncovered as a result of the raid.

The officer said police believe the boot disk, when installed, could provide web access by bypassing the jail's protections and firewalls

The foreign national said he works in activities inside the Alexander Maconochie Centre, which involves maintaining computers and televisions for the inmates use.

He said the computers had limited capacity.

The man was a web designer before his arrest on charges of producing child pornography and committing acts of indecency. But he said he was a ''complete dud at networking'' and did not have the skills to bypass the security system.

He said the boot drive was given to him by an offender, since deported to South Africa, who served four years of a nine-year sentence for what a judge described as "premeditated and predatory" rapes of a 10-year-old boy.

Justice John Burns denied the bail application, saying it would be remiss of him to release the man while the investigation was continuing. The man is expected to face trial in May.

The court action came as the ACT opposition says it is "shocked and disgusted" by the paedophile ring claims.

Canberra Liberals leader Zed Seselja says there were serious questions over the political oversight of the territory's jail.

"The fact that serious sex offenders and serious offender potentially have access to child pornography, I think most Canberrans would be shocked by that and disgusted by that," the opposition leader said.

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