Ipswich step-dad caught in global child porn sting

AN IPSWICH step-dad was caught with more than 10,000 images of child pornography as part of an investigation into a global child porn ring operating out of Canada.

Ipswich District Court was told Michael Patrick Shanahan had been a long-time client of a Toronto-based website business called Azovfilms.com, which distributed the child exploitation material online.

The company advertised itself as selling "naturalist" and "coming of age" films of young nude boys and its website told buyers the products were legal in Canada.

When Toronto police raided the business, they gathered 187,000 indecent images and more than 8000 videos.

A total of 386 victims of the ring were rescued from harm worldwide.

Canadian authorities alerted Queensland Police that Shanahan had been a client and his Ipswich home was searched by officers in November, 2013.

It was revealed Shanahan had amassed a collection of 10,369 child exploitation images, which were found on his various laptops and hard drives.

The 64-year-old also had 606 child porn videos.

As a consequence, he was charged with two counts of possessing child exploitation material.

Crown prosecutor Matt Le Grand said Shanahan told the police he had been downloading and saving the illicit material for "at least 10 to 15 years".

Mr Le Grand said most of the images were classified as category-one, at the lower end of the scale.

However, a total of 81 images were in category-five - the most serious - and featured children involved in the likes of bestiality or sadism.

Of all the videos, 22 were classified as category-five. Most of the material featured children aged seven and 13 years old.

Mr Le Grand said general deterrence was an important sentencing factor.

"The problem of child pornography is an international problem," he said.

"Those inclined to exploit children by involving them in the production of child pornography are encouraged by the fact there is a market for it.

"The prevalence and availability of pornographic material involving children, particularly on the internet, demands that general deterrence be a primary consideration".

Defence barrister Scott Neaves said Shanahan had made admissions and co-operated with police and that his client had only one previous conviction for a minor offence 40 years ago.

Mr Neaves said his client had a good employment history and was a step-father to his partner of 20 year's children.

A psychological report by Dr Peter Perros stated that Shanahan had developed a fascination with nudism, which attributed to his offending.

Dr Perros wrote that Shanahan did not realise the extent of his downloading and had only viewed a small amount of the material.

He added that Shanahan's offending behaviour should be classified as a psychological condition rather than malevolent or paedophilic behaviour.

Dr Perros said with treatment Shanahan posed a "low risk" of reoffending.

Judge Greg Koppenol said Shanahan had been charged with a "serious and odious" offence.

"The maximum penalty for possession of child exploitation material is 14 years in jail," Judge Koppenol told Shanahan.

"It is an offence which our community despises."

He convicted and sentenced Shanahan to 18 months in jail, suspended for two years.



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