A former DFAT official has been sentenced to jail after covertly filming school girls in their swimwear at his daughter's swimming carnival.
The 52-year-old man, who cannot be identified, was only caught because on the same night in February last year, he was in Civic using his phone to film women's breasts, buttocks, and their genital areas.
Police got involved and when they later searched his phone discovered video recordings that had been taken at the swimming carnival and were indecent in their focus on one 12-year-old girl, in the deleted section of the mobile.
When they searched his home, police found in a locked cupboard a USB holding nearly 32,000 images and videos of child exploitation.
The man pleaded guilty to an act of indecency on a young person and possessing child exploitation material following the investigation and was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court ton Thursday.
Chief Justice Helen Murrell sentenced the man to 21 months in jail, which was suspended immediately. The man had spent more than six months in custody on the charges before being granted bail last year.
The man took advantage of his position as a parent to mingle with children dressed in swimmers, the chief judge said. "This was not an impulsive act," she said. "Offences of this nature strike at the freedom of children to self consciously engage in sporting activities in which they may necessarily be scantily-clad and the confidence of parents when considering whether children should engage in such activities."
The sentence handed down by Chief Justice Murrell also acknowledged the man's dramatic fall in grace that had followed the offences.
"In all respects his life has unravelled," she said.
He has separated from his wife and daughters, and has limited contact with them. He lives with and cares for his mother, who has an acquired brain injury. He was sacked from the public service and is currently unemployed. He was threatened in prison as a result of the offences.
The court heard he had revealed being sexually abused by two brothers at the Goulburn school where he boarded.
The man reported being physically abused by his father and step-father, sexually abused by his grandmother, abuse and punishment after reporting sexual abuse, guilt after his father's suicide two days after revealing to him that he had been sexually abused, and trauma from his work investigating the Rwandan Genocide and working with the victims of rape and genocide.
The court accepted that the abuse and trauma happened, and it was backed up by reports and observations of friends.
A psychologist has diagnosed him with major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Previously he'd denied seeking out the child pornography for his own sexual gratification but that it turned up when he was searching for images of him being filmed when he was abused as a schoolboy.
But while Chief Justice Murrell said that was illogical given the quantity of the material and that it was of girls and not boys, that did not mean the man had invented a preposterous explanation nor was a bald-faced lie.
"No doubt, the assertion reflects the offender's shame and psychological confusion associated with the disclosure of his own abuse and the extent of his abuse of others by viewing and downloading child exploitation material."
The chief judge said she would have handed down a longer jail sentence but the man had started a course of intensive psychological treatment and developed a social network of people aware of his conduct but willing to help his rehabilitation.
She was loath to disrupt his circumstances because they support rehabilitation and minimise the risk of future harm to the community. She was also mindful of his responsibilities towards his mother.