Jail for downloading 'nasty' material

PRISON BOUND: Conan McClelland is sentenced to 12 months in jail on 29 charges of possessing objectionable material.
PRISON BOUND: Conan McClelland is sentenced to 12 months in jail on 29 charges of possessing objectionable material.

The "depths of depravity" a Palmerston North man went to when he accessed and shared sadistic child pornography online means jail is the only option, a judge says.

Conan McClelland, 35, was sentenced in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday to 12 months in prison on 29 representative charges of possessing objectionable material.

McClelland sobbed into a tissue through much of the proceedings.

Many of the hundreds of files possessed by McClelland on his home computer were at the highest echelon of what is considered objectionable and included acts of rape, sadism and bestiality on children as young as 3.

Judge Gerard Lynch said McClelland, an auto-electrical mechanic, had already left his job under the glare of the public eye, but it was important the community was aware of how serious his offending was and understood his jail sentence. In September 2012, inspectors at the Department of Internal Affairs discovered a New Zealander was using file-sharing programme Shareaza to download images and video of children engaging in sexual acts, some with other children.

Inspectors raided McClelland's home on January 16, 2013, and found the files which dated from between October 30, 2010 and January 9, 2013.

None of the videos or images were created by McClelland.

The court heard witness statements from two of the girls identified in McClelland's collection of material, one from Denmark and one from Moldova, describing the horror of knowing someone was getting entertainment from the worst moments of their lives.

"These are not victimless offences," the judge said. "These children are real and unfortunately for them these terrible images will endure beyond their lifetimes, aided by the actions of people like you.

"The community needs to know the depths of your depravity if they are to understand the sentence."

McClelland was remorseful and had co-operated with investigations.

He had pleaded guilty immediately but he "desperately" needed counselling and treatment for the "dark nature" of his addiction, the judge said.

A pre-sentence report found he was a risk of re-offending and a high risk to children.

"You believe you can stop simply because you decide to and you say you were not aroused by the files," the judge said. "You have your head in the sand and until you confront that, you remain a risk of re-offending.

"These were deviant and nasty publications stored for your sexual gratification."

The judge set a sentence of 20 months, deducting eight months for McClelland's good record, guilty plea and signs of remorse.

When he is released, McClelland will not be able to associate with a person under the age of 16 without an approved adult present and will not be able to possess a device capable of accessing the internet without the approval of a probation officer.

Manawatu Standard