Michael Stanley Cooper

Posted: October 22, 2012 by Serendipity in A.C.T, Location, Photo
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Judges say sentence too lenient for porn offender


14 Feb, 2012 01:00 AM

The territory’s top judge has said a weekend jail sentence was too lenient for a mentally ill man who amassed the largest haul of child pornography seized in the territory.

But Michael Stanley Cooper will not be sent behind bars full-time because he has already served most of his periodic detention.

Three judges of the ACT Court of Appeal yesterday ruled the original sentence handed down by acting Justice Nield was ”manifestly inadequate”.

In May last year the judge sentenced Cooper to two years, with 12-months served by way of weekend jail and the remainder suspended with a good-behaviour order.

”We’ve come to the view that the sentence was manifestly inadequate and did need to be increased,” Chief Justice Terence Higgins said yesterday.

The appeal judges – Chief Justice Higgins, Justice Richard Refshauge and Justice Dennis Cowdroy – increased the total sentence to three years.

Half of the term will be served by periodic detention with the remainder suspended.

But Chief Justice Higgins said if he had been the sentencing judge he would have locked up Cooper full-time for six months, to be followed by a year of weekend jail.

During the earlier sentencing hearings Cooper was described as a virtual recluse suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and a schizoid personality disorder.

The 54-year-old had no friends, no contact with his family and lived alone at his own home.

Police raided that home in January 2010 after the FBI linked Cooper to two video files containing child pornography uploaded to a website.

Investigators seized almost 700 computer discs and 100 DVDs from Cooper’s home; the raw data was found on seven desktop computers, one laptop computer and a number of external file storage devices.

Almost 700,000 child abuse images and videos were found on the computers, disks, DVDs, devices and in A4 folders.

The images range from the low end of the scale used to rank the graphic nature of child pornography – the Oliver scale – through to the highest category used to classify images of sadism or bestiality.

On appeal DPP Jon White argued the judge placed too much weight on Cooper’s good character and not enough weight on discouraging other would-be offenders.

The director also argued weekend jail was inappropriate because of the ”inbuilt leniency”.

”It has to be accepted that because it’s a significantly more lenient alternative that the wrong message can be sent if it’s imposed in the wrong circumstances,” Mr White said.

The Crown had called for both an increase of the two-year head sentence and a declaration the judges would have taken a tougher stance at the outset.

But the prosecution conceded it would not be appropriate to jail Cooper full-time three-quarters of the way through his weekend jail stretch.

Cooper’s barrister argued periodic detention was the appropriate punishment for her socially isolated, mentally ill client.

The defendant will now spend his weekends behind bars until November, and the court will publish its reasons at a later date.


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