Michael John Coulbourn

Posted: October 22, 2012 by Serendipity in Location, Photo, Registered Sex Offender, Tasmania
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Child-porn man free


December 11, 2009 07:58am

THE man sent to jail for one of the biggest child pornography seizures in Tasmanian history is free.

He served just 15 months of his 5½-year sentence and before he had completed a program designed to reform sex offenders.

His appeal was successful because the Supreme Court found the sentence excessive.

The case was described as one of the worst of its kind to come before a Tasmanian court and involved images of children as young as six months old.

Former Hobart public servant Michael John Coulbourn was caught as part of an international sting in 2007.

He was found in possession of 145,000 pornographic images involving children aged between six months and 15 years engaged in sexual activity with adults. The images involved nudity, abuse and animals.

In sentencing Coulbourn in August last year Justice Shan Tennant described the images the 50-year-old Moonah man had downloaded as disturbing and disgusting.

“They degraded children in every imaginable way,” she said.

“You clearly gave little thought to the harm the industry you supported can create.”

Coulbourn was caught along with 11 other Australians when the FBI uncovered his identity by posting fake messages on a website dedicated to child pornography.

The FBI passed Coulbourn’s details on to the Australian Federal Police who raided his house in March 2007.

Despite Justice Tennant giving Coulbourn a non-parole period of three years and ordering he be listed on the sex offenders’ register for five years, yesterday he walked from the Supreme Court of Tasmania a free man.

Coulbourn appealed in September this year and appeared before Chief Justice Ewan Crawford and Justices Alan Blow and David Porter.

The appeal was upheld yesterday on the grounds the sentence was “manifestly excessive” and Justice Tennant had erred in her judgment.

The appeal court took the position that the personal viewing of material the defendant had not paid for and simply downloaded did not warrant such a severe penalty compared to someone actually producing the material.

Coulbourn’s release has angered child-abuse campaigners who labelled the decision as “appalling” and “crazy”.

Beyond Abuse spokesman Steve Fisher said there was an urgent need to reform Tasmania’s laws dealing with child-sex offenders.

“Just when you think the sentencing laws are getting tougher this happens and a guy walks from jail with a slap on the wrist,” Mr Fisher said.

“Think of those images and how he must have obtained it. He is creating a market.

“People who deal in this stuff are just as guilty as the ones who make it.”

Liberal justice spokeswoman Vanessa Goodwin reiterated calls for all sex offenders serving a prison sentence to participate in a treatment program and be provided with support after release.

“That is what the community expects. It is also in the best interests of the offender,” Dr Goodwin said.

The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute has recommended a similar course of action.



Child porn man wants sentence cut

Posted Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:38am AEST

A Hobart man caught with 145,000 child pornography images wants his five-and-a-half year sentence reduced.

Michael John Coulbourn was tracked by the FBI during a global investigation into online child exploitation.

The 49-year-old was jailed last August after pleading guilty to possessing child exploitation material and using a carriage service to access it.

When police searched the former public servant’s Moonah home last year, they found pornography involving children as young as six months.

The prosecution described the crime as one of the worst of its kind Tasmania has seen.

The Hobart Criminal Court heard Coulbourn was suspended from his job with the Tasmanian public service after his arrest and has since resigned.

He is now appealing against his jail sentence, on the grounds that it is excessive.


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