Sept. 9, 2009, 12:02 p.m.

A MALDON man has escaped a jail term despite being convicted of downloading more than 40 hours of child pornography videos and 500 illegal images.Rodney Peter Smith, 28, was sentenced to 18 months’ jail – wholly suspended for two years – by County Court Judge Lance Pilgrim on Tuesday.The maximum penalty for using the internet to access child pornography is 10 years and for possessing child pornography the maximum is a five-year jail term.The Australian Federal Police, who were responsible for Smith’s arrest, were unable to comment on sentencing, as was the office of the Attorney-General.Judge Pilgrim also handed out a $1000 good behaviour bond and ordered Smith to perform 150 hours of community work.Smith was arrested in October 2008 by the AFP in an international operation in collaboration with Brazilian authorities.Operation Resistance netted 23 men in NSW, Victoria and Queensland and more than 200 people in 70 countries.Smith pleaded guilty at his committal hearing in April and was released on bail. His bail conditions included not accessing the internet and residing in his Maldon home.The AFP operation also resulted in former Queen’s Counsel Neil James Williams of Newham being jailed for two years, with a minimum of six months after pleading guilty to possessing, accessing and transmitting child pornography.Williams could be back in the community as early as next month. His charges span a 12-year period and include more than 10,000 images and 250 videos. Smith’s library of pornography included images of prepubescent girls involved in sexual acts with themselves, boys, adults and animals. Some images included babies.Prosecutors submitted that an immediate jail term was warranted and the lack of a custodial term angered victims of crime groups and child protection organisations.Carol Ronken, from child protection advocates Bravehearts, said jail was needed for those possessing or producing child porn.“These offenders are not being held accountable for their actions,” Ms Ronken said.“The message that seems to be coming out is that these (offences) are not being treated seriously.”People Against Lenient Sentencing spokesman Steve Medcraft said the judiciary should be sending a message to the community by imposing jail terms.“Sex offenders should not have the luxury of suspended sentences”.


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