Fine for child abuse images

A man convicted ofpossessing more than 150 sexual images of children has been fined $1000 and placed on the sex offenders register for 15 years.

John Benedetto, 29, formerly of Tennyson north of Bendigo, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Thursdaytotwo counts of possessing child exploitation materialafter being extradited from Queensland on Tuesday.

The court heard the images involved children between the ages of 10 and 17 engaged in sexual acts, including bondage.

Police prosecutor Sally Mannell saidBenedetto’s former partner first discovered the images on his mobile phonein March, 2015, but she did not initially report the matter to police, insteadconfrontingBenedetto and endingthe relationship.

When police later contacted the woman following an anonymous tip-offshehanded over a USB stick containing photos she had taken of the images on Benedetto’sphone.

When Benedetto was arrested in September, 2015,the phone was seizedand an analysisrevealed an additional 140 images of child exploitation material.

The court heard Benedetto admitted to possessing the images and said he downloaded them after being redirected from a legal pornography site, but could not explain how this occurred.

Senior Constable Mannell said Benedettotold police he was abused as a child and viewing the images “gave hima sense of power”.

Duty solicitorKate Youngson told the court Benedettowas “also a victim”, havingsuffered physical and sexual abuse while living in foster care between the ages of 10 and 12 in Queensland and overseas.

Speaking outside court detective senior constable Jamie Stubbins of the central Victorian sexual offences and child abuse investigation team said although relatively little child abuse material was produced in Victoria, viewing the images was far from a victimless crime.

“These peopledownloading it,theythink they’re not really doing anything wrong here, ‘no one sees it, only Isee it’, but they’re demanding it, they’redownloadingit and the peoplethat get paidto do it orget their own sick thrill from doing it, they will continue to produce it,” he said.

“This is a case where we’ve pursued someone who’s leftthe jurisdiction and Ihope thatmessage [gets through] to people,that although it’sminor in their mindit’snot and we will pursue them.”

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