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Woman who used child to photograph explicit acts avoids jail time

Date

Michael Inman

A woman who used her eight-year-old neighbour as a photographer in explicit photo shoots will not serve time behind bars.

Sarah Thomson, 33, was found guilty after an ACT Supreme Court trial in March of three counts of committing an act of indecency in front of a child.

Thomson had the girl, then aged eight and nine, take pictures of her committing sexual acts on herself on three occasions in 2008.

The offender would then email the images to a man she was romantically linked to in Queensland.

A sentencing hearing last month heard the girl had not provided a victim impact statement to the court because she had not wanted to relive the incidents.

A statement by the girl's stepfather, tendered at the hearing, said the offences made "a little girl think she's a bad person".

He said the child's personality changed and that she required counselling in the wake of the incidents.

The court heard both the victim and her mother had suffered anxiety and depression as a result.

Justice Richard Refshauge, in handing down the sentence on Tuesday, accepted years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of her ex-husband had caused Thomson to lose her “moral compass” at the time of the offences.

The court heard the offender had taken the pictures after meeting a man who had shown her love and affection.

Thomson’s barrister, Anthony Hopkins, had previously told the court the images were an attempt to gain acceptance after years of being "reduced as a human being".

Justice Refshauge took into account Thomson had no previous criminal history and would be unlikely to reoffend.

The judge sentenced her to three years jail, to be fully suspended upon entering a four-year good-behaviour order.

The order included a condition she be supervised by ACT Corrections for the first two years.

Justice Refshauge expressed concern for Thomson’s mental health after the stress of being before the courts and suggested she seek counselling to help her move on with her life.

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