Teacher's child porn image shocked police with its depravity

AN Ipswich teacher found with more than 500,000 images of child pornography has been sentenced to four years jail.

One image he had of a baby being violated shocked even the experienced investigators of online child abuse.

The father of two initially lied to police about being "blackmailed" to download the disturbing content.

The special education teacher will be eligible to apply for parole release after he serves 16-months.

Stewart James Mitchell, 39, pleaded guilty in the Ipswich District Court to two Commonwealth and one State offence: using a carriage service to transmit child pornography to himself at Leichhardt between January 2013 and December 2016; using a carriage service to transmit, make available child pornography; and possession of child exploitation material.

In his defence the disgraced teacher partially blamed the breakdown of his marriage.

In the case put by Crown prosecutor Jane Shaw, Mitchell's home computer had been actively downloading child pornography while officers executed their search warrant.

Defence barrister Andrew West said his career had disappeared, saying that as a special educator it was more stressful than ordinary teaching.

"It tends to be a dumping ground for delinquents, who upset other children," Mr West said.

Mr West said Mitchell instructed the offending was likely "triggered by the unravelling of his relationship" but he alone was responsible.

"For many years the relationship went well but her mother remained the most important person in her life," he said.

"The family was living way beyond their means to some extent.

"He was home alone, feeling alone, looking after the children.

"Little or no sharing of domestic responsibility. The house was described as a tip."

Mr West said there was no suggestion that Mitchell had been predatory of any children in his care.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC said Mitchell's offences were discovered by a special taskforce targeting file sharing, in which his internet protocol number was identified as engaging in the uploading of child pornography.

Among the disgusting images of the Crown prosecution case detailed, he said was one of "a baby being sexually abused in ways almost unimagined".

"It was seemingly shocking to members of the taskforce in its depravity, whose job it is (to view the images). Saying it is among the worst they'd seen," Judge Horneman-Wren said.

"You had well over 500,000 images and 4,500 movies. That is an enormous amount of child pornography."

Judge Horneman-Wren was scathing of what Mitchell first told police, saying it was "a fanciful, self-serving explanation that you were downloading because you were being blackmailed by a syndicate.

"But you admitted to police the story was made up and you had been downloading it for yourself," he said.

"You told police your preference was young females aged 14 but later denied making that comment.

"These are not victimless crimes. Every child depicted has been abused and offended against. In harmful, most degrading ways."

Psychological and psychiatric reports were put before the Judge.

Along with the four year jail term, Mitchell was sentenced to 2 ½ years jail suspended (for five years) after 16 months for the State offence.



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