A Cranbrook man was sentenced to eight months in prison following a guilty plea for possession of child pornography on Thursday, August 18.
The identity of the man and all details that could identify his family are protected under a publication ban.
Judge Donald Sperry sentenced the man to eight months in prison, followed by three years probation and 10 years on the Sex Offender Information and Registration Act.
The man was found to be in possession of more than 19,000 images of child pornography and over 700 videos. Of those, 2,193 images and 446 videos were accessible.
Many images had been deleted over a period of eight years. When the search warrant was executed, three new videos had been recently downloaded and one was in the process that were determined to be child pornography.
The RCMP officer who discovered the collection said it was "the worst of the worst," on the hierarchy of child pornography, and some images contained bondage and bestiality.
Court was shown six randomly selected images from the man's collection, and several short video clips. Judge Sperry said he would not close the court room, but provided a disclaimer to those in the gallery before the images were displayed, saying that although they would not be shown directly to the gallery, sounds may be heard during the video clips.
"I have never closed a court room," he said. "However, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if decent, moral people leave the room. That which is heard can never be unheard, and that which is seen can never be unseen."
Before the gallery left, the man addressed the group, urging them to leave. All members left the room as the video and images were displayed by a member of the RCMP.
Afterwards, court heard that in December 2011 an RCMP member was monitoring a peer to peer network, and discovered 10 images on a Cranbrook computer. A search warrant was executed and several hard drives were seized containing the content. The man was taken into custody and released hours later.
The files were organized - many by a female first name - which Judge Sperry pointed to as an aggravating factor in the case.
During an interview with the RCMP following the arrest, the man told police how he "drifted" from regular pornography to child pornography.
"If somebody were to do that to my child, I tell you I'd kill them," he said.
He admitted to "dabbling" back and forth for seven to eight years before his arrest, and said he often drank alcohol while viewing the images. When asked by the police why he was forthcoming about his involvement, the man replied, "you have the evidence."
Crown counsel Andrew Mayes told court that the age group of the images varied from seven to 10 years old.
"Our children are our most precious resource," Mayes said. "They deserve our protection."
Defence counsel Patrick Dearden said his client did not engage in pedophilia, nor did he distribute or produce child pornography in any way. He also did not purchase any of the material, and thus did not contribute to the so-called "industry" of child pornography.
Since his arrest, court heard through Dearden that the man has been participating in counseling, and has grown to appreciate the impact on the children in the pornography.
Dearden admits the images his client was looking at are "vile" and "disgusting," but stressed that the man has taken steps to correct his behaviour and mitigate damage to his family.
"There's not much else that I could ask him to do, other than not get involved in this junk in the first place," Dearden said.
He pointed to the man's community involvement and that he was otherwise, before his arrest, an upstanding member of the community with no prior criminal record. A large group of supporters were in court throughout the two days of the sentencing hearing, and Dearden said they will help the man through his recovery.
"Everybody would be watching to see if he slipped up," he said.
The man addressed court on Thursday morning, and fighting back tears, said he was deeply sorry for the hurt he had caused his family and friends.
"Since the day of my arrest I've been tearing my life apart trying to figure out how I got here," the man said.
"I was looking at … children as nothing else than regular pornography," the man said.
He spoke about hearing the videos played for the court on Tuesday.
"Even though I could just hear, it just about made me sick."
He then referred to comments said earlier by Judge Sperry, about not being able to un-see or un-hear what happens in the court room.
"I'm going to have to live with that," he said.
The man also discussed the continued support he has received from those who submitted letters of reference and attended court.
"These people have put their reputations on the line for me. I will not fail them. I cannot fail them," he said. "Saying sorry doesn't even come close to what I feel. I betrayed my family."
In his reasons for sentencing, Judge Sperry acknowledged the man did not have a record prior to his arrest, he had support and had co-operated with RCMP, doctors and had attended counseling and a sex addicts support group.
"He has had his friends and supporters listen for two days about how he liked to watch little girls be sexually brutalized," he said. "My assessment is what he said was genuine, honest and heartfelt."
A second count of distribution of child pornography was stayed.
Under the man's probation, he will not be permitted to own a computer or any other electronic device capable of accessing the internet. He must advise anyone he is living with or dating of his SOIRA status, and that person must contact a probation officer. He also must not access any material depicting female genitalia of a human being.