http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2007/02/20/1524_news.html

Child porn: Cop guilty

Mex Cooper

20Feb07

A GEELONG police officer yesterday pleaded guilty to possessing more than 500 images of child pornography.

Up to 70,000 pornographic images stored on 500 CDs and two computers were seized from Alan Crane’s former East Geelong home during a police raid on March 1 last year.

The search was conducted by the Victorian Police’s Ethical Standards Department and the Office of Police Integrity after a tip-off from United State’s law enforcement agencies to the Australian Federal Police.

The Geelong Magistrates’ Court heard that 10,000 of the images were suspected to have contained child pornography, but after a forensic examination an expert was only able to confidently identify 44 girls, featured in 542 images, as being under 18 years old.

Daryl Brown, from the Office of Public Prosecutions, said it was likely that many of the other images also showed minors but that they could not be confidently identified as underage.

The court heard that the child pornography showed girls posing naked, some in sexually provocative positions but not engaged in sexual acts.

Nick Papas, for Crane, said the child pornography, some of which was paid for with a credit card, made up less than 1 per cent of his client’s total pornography collection.

Mr Papas said it could be difficult to tell if a person was under 18 from a picture and that his client was not interested in having sex with underage girls.

“His interest in the young form is one based on viewing beauty and not sexual gratification,” he said.

At the time of his arrest Crane, a police officer of 18 years, had been working at the Geelong Traffic Management Unit for about 10 months after spending most of his career in Sale, during which time he received a medal for ethics and good service.

He has since moved from Geelong after receiving death threats.

Magistrate Max Beck convicted Crane on one charge of possessing child pornography.

“If people did not seek to possess child pornography, children would not be abused to create it,” Mr Beck said.

Crane, 41, was fined $6000, sentenced to three months’ jail suspended for 12 months and placed on the sex offenders register for eight years.

Outside the court Crane said he was “totally blown away” by the sentence.

“I’m disappointed by the magistrate’s decision. I think it was made fully apparent in the court that they were not images of very young children or children being abused. I think that kind of behaviour is abhorrent,” he said.

“I regret digressing from what the legislators have decided is child pornography. I believe this was a technical child pornography case and I will be appealing the decision.”

Crane was suspended on full pay after being charged. After  the court’s decision his pay was withdrawn.

A police spokesman said  police would wait for the appeal outcome before deciding whether to take any further internal disciplinary action.

 

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