A Canberra man who reported developing an addiction to child pornography after coming across it on the internet when he was only 13 years old has prompted a judge's warning to parents to supervise their children's access to the internet.
"The internet is not a benign educative tool as once thought," Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson said. "Child pornography is a depraved black hole of the internet."
Justice Loukas-Karlsson stopped short of sending the man to jail for possessing and sending child pornography, instead imposing a three year sentence to be served in the community by way of an intensive corrections order and 200 hours of community service.
The 31-year-old man, whose identity has been suppressed by the court, was arrested after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police informed the AFP that a person at an Australian address was using the messaging app KIK to access and transmit child pornography material.
In February 2018, the AFP raided the man's home and he told police he had been accessing child pornography since he was 13. He described his behaviour as an addiction, for which he had been seeking counselling. He had since deleted the images to prevent himself offending and scrambled the password for the app.
The man had accessed 490 images between 2013 and 2017 that included all categories of child pornography including the worst kind. He also communicated with other users of the app to trade child pornography material.
Prosecutors called for time in jail, saying his offending had been over a period of years and could not be described as spontaneous or impulsive.
The court heard the man has been in a relationship with his wife for 11 years and they have two young children, with whom he had had limited contact since being charged. He had no drug or alcohol issues and no health issues.
He had met with a psychologist in 2011 for several sessions to address his sexual attraction to children. He had reengaged with the psychologist in early January 2018 - before his arrest - and had been attending counselling three times a week.
"There is no excuse for my behaviour and I accept full responsibility for my actions," the man said in a letter to the court. "This behaviour goes completely against my morals and I feel incredibly ashamed for having supported the child sex industry."
After his arrest, he said he told everyone he was closest to, both friends and family, what had happened.
"As unbearable as the last year has been for me, it nowhere near compares to the emotional and physical pain that children around the world have suffered for this industry to exist," the man told the court.
His wife too wrote a letter, saying her husband's offending deeply disappointed her. "He has committed to making a lifelong change, and with the level of support he has around him, I only wish he reached out for help sooner," she said.