David Cope-Williams

Posted: October 22, 2012 by Serendipity in Location, NSW
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Child porn offenders escape jail sentences

By John Kidman and Catharine Munro
March 19, 2006

ONLY 15 of more than 100 NSW men charged in Australia’s biggest child pornography crackdown are behind bars, even though almost all of them have been found guilty.

Police documents obtained by The Sun-Herald show prosecutors won 79 of the 102 cases that have been through the courts.

In all, 11 were sentenced to jail and four to periodic detention, but most of those who received jail sentences had them suspended. Many others escaped with fines and bonds.

Department of Corrective Services Assistant Commissioner Luke Grant said many jail sentences being dealt out to child pornographers were too short to allow sufficient time for rehabilitation.

“Part of the problem is that [child offenders] are not getting long enough sentences,” Mr Grant said. A term of less than 12 months limited opportunities to work with offenders.

As Federal Police last week made fresh raids on three more Australians suspected of using what US officials called “the worst imaginable forms of child pornography”, Opposition police spokesman Mike Gallacher condemned the courts for their treatment of those charged under Operation Auxin.

“They are the weak link in the chain – letting the community down, letting the cops down, letting the kids down,” Gallacher said.

High-profile police raids across the nation, known as Operation Auxin, were launched two years ago after a tip-off from US authorities. Federal police described the charges as the “tip of the iceberg”.

One source close to the investigation said some of the images police had found from the former Soviet state of Belarus had never been shown publicly, but clearly showed children suffering.

“No reasonable person could look at those images and not see the pain and distress on their faces,” the source said. Some children were believed to have been kidnapped off the street.

Four men who have been put behind bars were given periodic detention, including David Cope-Williams, a career soldier who was reported to have had an unblemished military record.

At the time of his conviction last April, it was reported that magistrate Elizabeth Corbett appeared visibly uncomfortable when viewing evidence that Cope-Williams possessed 10,520 photographs of girls as young as five being sexually abused and raped by groups of hooded men.

He received eight months’ jail with a six-month non-parole period, reduced on appeal to periodic detention.

When Operation Auxin hit headlines, NSW Parliament reacted swiftly, voting unanimously in late 2004 to more than double, from two years to five, jail terms for anyone caught with child pornography. “The Government is sending a clear message to the courts that child pornography should not be tolerated,” Attorney-General Bob Debus told Parliament.

But those spoken to by The Sun-Herald said the courts had not heeded that call. Not one sentence in Local Courts or District Courts as a result of the Auxin raids has reached the maximum, partly because prosecutors had opted to send cases to the Local Court, where a maximum penalty of only two years could be handed down.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures show it has been five times easier to go to jail for stealing a car than for looking at child pornography. In 2004, 314 of 781 penalties for car theft resulted in imprisonment.

Following Auxin, magistrates opted to suspend the vast majority of jail terms. Last week, chief magistrate Derek Price took the unusual step of defending the record of courts.

“The seriousness of a suspended sentence should not be underestimated, as offenders are imprisoned for breaching the conditions of such a sentence,” he told The Sun-Herald.

Auxin’s first arrest in NSW, Bible studies teacher Stephen Laws, was sentenced to 43 months jail after police found images on his computer of under-aged girls in sexual acts. It was cut to 34 months on appeal.

Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive Joe Tucci feared judges had “taken the line that it’s not abuse and it’s not exploitative because there weren’t any visible victims”.

“The outcome is that it has sent a confused message to the community about this being as serious as it was initially made out to be,” he said.

Last week Mr Debus claimed vindication for changing the laws, saying only 11 Auxin offenders had been convicted because they committed their crimes since the beginning of 2005. Five received custodial sentences, although only three were full-time. “This early trend . . . is very encouraging,” he said.


– Auxin investigations began in February 2004 but took six months to peak with co-ordinated execution of hundreds of warrants and arrests across Australia.

– 644 child pornography offences have been identified and 399 men are or have been the subject of prosecutions.

– Most have been charged with offences relating to possession, production, sale or dissemination of child pornographic or child-abuse material.

– More than 2 million images and 200 computers have been seized.

– Auxin was the result of information supplied by US Customs based on their discovery of a global child pornography racket in the Belarus capital, Minsk.

– Police have launched action in relation to more than 1000 internet subscribers in 12 countries.



Man jailed for having child porn

By Les Kennedy and Natasha Wallace
April 9, 2005

Major David Cope-Williams was a career soldier with an unblemished record whom the army had earmarked to rise to lieutenant-colonel.

He served six months in East Timor and had been recommended to receive decorations for his involvement in the army’s planning of operations in the war in Iraq and in East Timor.

However, the image of an officer and a gentleman was shattered when he resigned his commission after being arrested in the nationwide Operation Auxin swoop on 400 men identified as buying child pornography from a Russian internet site.

Yesterday the 43-year-old stood in stiff military “at-ease” position with his arms crossed behind his back as a Downing Centre magistrate, Elizabeth Corbett, jailed him for eight months after he pleaded guilty to six counts of possessing child pornography.

Ms Corbett looked shocked after viewing some of 10,520 photographs of girls as young as five being sexually abused and raped by groups of hooded men.

The images, downloaded from the internet, were found on Cope-Williams’s computer hard drive at his Woolloomooloo unit by detectives on September 25. Thousands of photos had been printed and stored in suitcases, some lay on a dresser beside his bed, others were on disks.

Just as disturbing was the discovery that Cope-Williams collected newspaper and website stories and photos about the kidnapping, rape, torture and murder of young girls, according to police statements tendered in evidence.

They included articles on the abduction and murders of 10-year-old Samantha Knight from Bondi in 1986, nine-year-old Ebony Simpson from Bargo in 1992 and the abduction and starvation of two girls by a Belgium pedophile ring.

There were also articles submitted in evidence about pedophiles being caught in Thailand and Cambodia, where police allege Cope-Williams had travelled numerous times.

Cope-Williams said nothing during his appearance and left it to his counsel, Ian Temby, QC, to detail the destruction of his career his arrest had brought about and to deny he had ever engaged in sex with children.

Mr Temby said Cope-Williams “developed an unhealthy interest” in the child pornography website during a period of overwork that bought about stress-induced depression and heavy drinking.

In jailing him with a minimum non-parole period of six months, Ms Corbett said the payment for child pornography perpetuated the abuse of children.

“It cannot be regarded as a victimless crime. The children in those pictures are the victims.”

Last month three other NSW men charged as a result of Operation Auxin were sentenced.

Stephen Gregory McGuigan, 44, of North Balgowlah, was jailed for 12 months for possessing 82 images of girls, but is appealing.

John Tscheppera, 49, a relief teacher of Bossley Park, was put on a 12-month good behaviour bond for possessing images of pre-teen boys.

David Abbey Mitchell, 55, an information technology manager, of Hornsby, was fined $3000 for possessing an image of a girl performing a sex act on a man.


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