A judge has revoked an order protecting the identity of a Canberra sex offender and locked up the veteran former federal public servant, who was busted with more than 21,000 files of child abuse material.
Peter Robert Cobcroft first appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court in a Doctor Who jumper after a raid on his Page home in August 2020.
Notwithstanding the fact The Canberra Times had identified Cobcroft in an article that day, magistrate Louise Taylor banned further publication of the man's name three weeks later.
Chief Justice Helen Murrell revoked Ms Taylor's order in the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday, saying "it would set a most unfortunate precedent" if it remained in place.
Cobcroft had, by the time he faced that court, pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing child abuse material and two counts of using a carriage service to access such material.
The married father, who was 50 at the time of his arrest, committed these crimes between May 2018 and August 2020.
MORE COURT AND CRIME NEWS:
Having lost his anonymity, Cobcroft returned to the Supreme Court one final time on Thursday to learn his fate.
Chief Justice Murrell sentenced him to 21 months in jail, ordering that the balance of that term be suspended once Cobcroft has served five months behind bars.
In sentencing, the judge detailed how police had discovered the man's internet protocol address was being used to access child abuse material.
Investigators subsequently searched Cobcroft's home and seized numerous electronic devices, each of which was later found to hold objectionable files.
During the search, Cobcroft told police he had downloaded "fantasy fiction and fantasy pornographic material".
"Child abuse material had appeared during his search for adult material and he had downloaded files containing computer-generated depictions of children, not realising that child pornography laws extended to such material," Chief Justice Murrell said.
"At the time, he did not think that such material actively harmed anyone.
"However, he also admitted that he was interested in the corruption of the innocence of fictional children."
The judge characterised the child abuse material Cobcroft was caught with as "very realistic and highly offensive", though it did not depict any human victims.
Rather, the material in question was comprised of computer-generated images, cartoon strips, anime, hentai and comics.
Several popular fictional characters were among the fake children, some of whom appeared to be toddlers, engaging in graphic sexual acts.
Chief Justice Murrell, who had to inspect a sample of the material, called it "degrading, objectifying and most disrespectful to the human value of children".
She also gave a breakdown of the analysis that had uncovered "a very large volume" of child abuse material on Cobcroft's devices, with 21,149 files of it in total.
The judge said the offender had written a letter to the court, stating he was "horrified at the idea of anyone sexually abusing children".
"[He] acknowledged that he may have contributed to such harm by collecting child abuse material and thereby encouraging its creation," Chief Justice Murrell said.
Following Cobcroft's guilty pleas, the author of a pre-sentence report described him as having "overall ... accepted responsibility for his actions".
A psychologist opined, meanwhile, that the man was "a very low risk of reoffending".
Chief Justice Murrell ultimately accepted Cobcroft, who worked in the public service for 26 years before being made redundant, was "genuinely remorseful".
Under the terms of the sentence she imposed, Cobcroft will be freed from prison in July if he enters into a two-year recognisance release order.
This will require him to be of good behaviour, and to pay $1000 in security for compliance.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.