A child sex offender who admitted he posted child abuse material online and possessed over a thousand files of the horrific content has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ prison.
Ernest Yardley, 35, who lived with his parents in Gilmore, pleaded guilty in the ACT Supreme Court last year and was sentenced on Monday on five charges relating to possessing child abuse material or using a carriage service to transmit and solicit such material.
The agreed facts of the case, released as part of Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson’s sentencing remarks, state that between June 2018 and February 2019 Yardley kept child abuse material on five devices.
In 2019 he transmitted and made the material available to 13 different recipients using the Whatsapp and Telegram encrypted messaging services, as well as the online file storage service Dropbox. He also sent material to himself.
The Australian Federal Police were tipped off about Yardley’s online activity before searching his home in February 2019. The AFP identified 1424 files of child abuse material across the five devices.
When discussing the prosecution’s submissions, Justice Loukas-Karlsson remarked: “It was submitted that while it is unclear precisely how many child victims were depicted in the files, each of the children were victimised by the offender on every occasion that an image of them was transmitted and viewed.”
She said general deterrence was of paramount consideration when sentencing offences of this nature.
“The transmission of child pornography material creates a market for the continued exploitation of children on an international level and is not a victimless crime,” she said.
“Offences of this kind are becoming increasingly prevalent at a time when the internet provides a means to access the material.
“Such material may fuel the fantasies of child sexual assault offenders, and may promote a distorted and depraved view of reality where children are seen as appropriate sexual partners for adults.”
Justice Loukas-Karlsson said the defence had submitted Yardley had no other criminal history, was in very poor health for a man his age and was “extremely frightened of being imprisoned, and will be extremely vulnerable in custody”. She accepted that Yardley was under socialised and of limited social ability.
Under the charges Yardley pleaded guilty to, he faced a possible 15 years’ jail. He will spend 15 months of his sentence behind bars before being released in April 2022 on a two-year recognisance release order.
The order requires him to be assessed for and, if found suitable, directed to attend the adult sex offender program.