SELECTED CASE LAW
In 2018 BCCA 74, Mr. W, a 72-year-old man, was convicted of possessing child pornography.
The British Columbia Child Exploitation Unit investigated a report of someone downloading child pornography onto a storage server. The IP address associated with the images was located in BC. The police obtained a search warrant to search Mr. W’s home. They found CDs, DVDs, USBs and a CPU, which contained over 220,000 images of child pornography and several vide-os. The images were sorted into file folders and included images of nude children, children engaging sexually, and adults sexually abusing children.
Mr. W was arrested and given an opportunity to speak with his lawyer prior to being inter-viewed by the police, which he did. His lawyer advised him not to speak to the police, which he told the police, but then he made several admissions, including that he was the owner of the computer, that he was looking at images from his USB the morning the search had taken place, that he could not stop himself from looking at them, and that he collected them for a sexual purpose. The judge did not find Mr. W was pressured to make these admissions.
The trial judge found some of the images were child pornography, but some of the video clips were such low quality, she couldn’t conclude that they were child pornography. The people in the higher quality images were clearly children, due to their features and lack of physical development.
He was sentenced to one year in jail and three years’ probation.
In regards to whether the images were of children or were a representative sample, the appeal court stated:
Cases of child pornography pose particular challenges for counsel and the court. Where tens of thousands of images are collected, as here, there is a practical problem of how to receive them into evidence in a form that is manageable. It is for that reason one would expect the admissibility of such evidence to be dealt with at the trial court, as part of the disclosure process or in objections to admissibility of certain summary type evidence.
He appealed his conviction, arguing the statement he made to the police was not voluntary, the people in the images weren’t minors, and that the images and videos shown to the court were not representative of the larger collection of images.
The appeal of his conviction was dismissed.
He also appealed his sentence, arguing the trial judge had made a mistake in applying the sentencing principles and that the sentence was demonstrably unfit, although it was actually on the lighter side of what could have been imposed.
The Court of Appeal disagreed with his arguments. The appeal of his sentence was dismissed.
Also see: 2018 BCCA 329 (Appeal).
Criminal Offence(s): Child Pornography Offences