Three key rulings relating to child porn and abuse were delivered in Asia Pacific region Friday. A Canadian school teacher was sentenced to 39 months, an Australian woman to two years while an Australian school received suspended sentence.
Candian schoolteacher Christopher Paul Neil, who taught in several Asian countries, was arrested last year following an international manhunt after hundreds of photos of him allegedly engaging in sex acts with young boys were discovered on the Internet.
The Thai court also imposed a $1,780 fine on the 32-year-old man who had pleaded guilty May 12. His initial sentence of six years, six months was reduced by the court because Neil pleaded guilty.
Neil, orginally from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, still faces similar charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty, involving the younger brother of the 13-year-old victim. In that case, he faces up to 20 years in jail for charges that include sexually abusing a minor, videotaping the alleged abuse, taking a child without parental consent, and holding him against his will.
The child who was nine years old at the time claims Neil paid him $15 to $30 to perform oral sex in 2003. That trial resumes on Oct. 7.
"OK," was Neil's only comment to reporters after the verdict was read. His interpreter said Neil, dressed in a prison uniform and wearing ankle chains, would not appeal. After the trial, he was taken straight to a Bangkok prison where he will serve his sentence.
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said in a prepared statement Friday that Neil's arrest and conviction showed that the police agency "will use all available legal tools, including obtaining media and public support, to track down these predators wherever they may be found."
The multinational operation to apprehend him demonstrated "that keeping our children safe from sexual predators in the 21st century can best be achieved by ensuring that local, national and international police co-operate across borders and across the digital divide worldwide," he said.
A SYDNEY woman has become one of the first females to be jailed on child pornography charges after she sent thousands of "horrific" images and videos to men she met online.
She will now enter a prison system with no rehabilitation programs designed specifically for female sex offenders.
Suzanne McDonald, 40, was found to have more than 140 movies and 2160 images of hardcore child pornography on her home computer and various CDs when she was arrested late last year. She is believed to have distributed material to at least 12 people on 28 occasions between June and December 2007.
Police located 143 movies and 2,169 images depicting child pornography on her home computer and on compact discs.
Images included children involved in bestiality and torture, while a 17-minute film showed a young girl fighting as a man dragged her into a bedroom, where she was then tied to a bed and sexually abused.
During the trial, McDonald, a travel agent, said she had smoked the drug ice daily and became involved in "role playing" with the men she contacted on the websites.
McDonald was reported to police by a man who met her on a dating site.
In their online conversations, she had begun to focus on fantasies about children and animals, before saying "I have a few video clips I know you would love" and that "some are loving - and some are closer to rape as well."
The man reported her after she forwarded him a series of child pornography images.
McDonald said the child pornography was sent to her and she "played" the role of the child depicted in the images.
She said she was not sexually gratified by the images themselves, but from the "sense of being able to fulfil the role I was playing, a sense of having done what was asked of me."
She admitted sending on some of the material.
McDonald has been in protective custody since her arrest last December and said she now realised the "devastating effects" caused by her use of child pornography.
She wiped away tears, saying she now lived "with girls who have been sexually abused when they were young".
McDonald said she now realised the availability of child pornography was a matter of supply and demand, and she had contributed to the devastating outcomes.
"It is a very hard lesson I have had to learn. I am glad I have learnt it," she said.
Judge Paul Conlon at Sydney's Central District Court said, "She believed the photographs were `just pictures,` were anonymous and harmless adjuncts to her role-playing," he said.
"She never thought her behaviour would amount to criminal behaviour and, because of the amount of drugs in her system, she never gave it a thought." Judge Conlon said.
McDonald was sentenced to four-and-a-half years jail, with a non-parole period of three years.
With time already served she will become eligible for release in December, 2010.
Outside the court, the detective who led the investigation into McDonald said the case involved images of the "the most unimaginable cruelty" toward children.
"Child pornography is not a victimless crime - children were deeply and seriously hurt through the commission of these offences and I think the penalty today reflects that," former detective sergeant Dean Mitchell said.
Mitchell, who has since left the New South Wales Police Force, said an investigation was continuing to trace the recipients of McDonald's images.
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research could find no record of any females being convicted for possessing or disseminating child pornography between 1994 and 2006.
Unlike the Canadian man and the Australian travel agent, a teacher from a prestigious Melbourne school who downloaded more than 400 child porn images and videos has avoided prison.
John Newton Hewitt, 49, a former Brighton Grammar School history and politics teacher, received a suspended jail sentence and a good behaviour order.
Hewitt, who once co-authored a book with former Victorian premier John Cain, downloaded and stored naked images and videos of girls aged between four and 17.
They included girls performing sexual acts and shots of their genitals, the Victorian County Court heard.
Hewitt, was due to commence a position at another prestigious Melbourne school - Scotch College - when police raided his home last December, seizing his computer and CDs which contained the pornography .
Judge Frank Gucciardo, who viewed the images, said they were disturbing.
"They are disgusting, offensive and can only be described as evil," Judge Gucciardo said.
"This filth is too readily accessible. If people such as you don't seek these depraved images there will be fewer abused children.
"Children are abused, violated and degraded in order to make a market." Hewitt searched the internet using terms like "illegal underage nudity", "naked underage" and "pre-teen sex".
When arrested Hewitt told police he was addicted to porn.
Judge Gucciardo sentenced Hewitt, who pleaded guilty to one count of using a carriage service to access child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography, to 18 months' prison to be served as a two-year good behaviour order.
Judge Gucciardo also sentenced Hewitt to 12 months' prison, wholly suspended for two years. Hewitt must pay $A6000 to the Royal Children's Hospital and a $A10,000 bond to the court.
He will be registered as a sex offender for the next 15 years.