Alan Melchert.

Melchert – Alan Lilburne - Photo2

WA man escapes jail after global child porn sting

  • Andrea Hayward
  • September 26, 2008 – 1:09PM

A former sports administrator has escaped a jail sentence for accessing more than 2000 child pornography images that were discovered during a global sting.

Alan Lilburn Melchert, 59, was sentenced to eight months jail today in the WA District Court after pleading guilty to three counts of using a carriage service to access images of children engaging in sexual activities.

But Judge Julie Wager suspended the prison term because of Melchert’s early guilty pleas and the fact he had no prior convictions.

Melchert was one of 144,000 computer users from 170 countries investigated after a hacker infiltrated a Croatian website and inserted degrading and explicit images of young girls from Eastern Europe, the US and Paraguay.

The father of two, a former board member of the WA Sports Federation and executive director of Volunteering WA, was one of dozens of Australian men arrested under the operation dubbed Centurion, which uncovered several cases of child molestation.

Commonwealth prosecutor Darren Jones told the court the Australian Federal Police traced Melchert through Telstra and executed a search warrant at a leased Burswood house in May this year.

A total of 267 images of children under 18 involved in sexual activities were discovered on a laptop.

Melchert co-operated with police and allowed them access to two other computers, where a further 564 and 1341 images were found on the hard drives, Mr Jones said.

Melchert’s lawyer Gerard Edwards said his client began viewing pornography during a period of stress and depression.

Mr Edwards said Melchert had developed an addiction to pornography. He started out viewing adult pornography before he strayed into the area of child pornography.

Melchert had sought the help of a counsellor before he was charged by police and had never paid to view images or videos, had never download any pornographic material nor distributed images to others, Mr Edwards said.

“It is quite clear he is not a pedophile and he has no pedophile tendencies,” he said.

Mr Edwards said his client and himself were unaware it was a crime to access child pornography and the still images Melchert had viewed were “not terribly bad”.

Judge Wager said the offences were serious and Melchert had viewed 2172 images in a 12-month period.

She said each of the victims depicted in the images had been a victim of abuse.

“I fully accept that you hadn’t thought this through at all,” Ms Wager said.

But Melchert had accepted full responsibility for his actions once confronted with the offences and had no prior convictions, Judge Wager said.

She said the excessive use of pornography had contributed to his marriage breakdown, but Melchert’s wife and family had been supportive of him throughout the court process and had reconciled.

“The value of your family and your social support is now very clear to you,” she said.

A psychiatric report said Melchert had viewed the images out of “morbid curiosity”.

Judge Wager said a fine was not appropriate for the offences and imposed an eight-month prison term for each of the offences to be served concurrently.

But the prison term was suspended and Melchert was released on a bail fee of $1000.


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