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Michael Edward Hatch gets five months for child porn.

By johnboy - 18 July 2008 38

[First filed: July 15, 2008 @ 18:24]

The Herald Sun reports that the former ACT policeman Michael Hatch has been sentenced to what we can only imagine will be a very hard five months in prison for possessing around 20 images of child pornography on his work computer and another 50 at his home.

An extensive list of “teen” websites of shady repute he had visited (which I’m told usually claim to have 18 and 19 year old models, often actually much older) was also tendered to the court. How many of us would be happy to see our browser histories published?

Personally I wish him a safe custodial sentence and a full rehabilitation.

Without wishing in any way to trivialise his offence; I personally think between the loss of his career, his good name, and five months as a prisoner at risk he’s a bit of a scape-goat for a great many people doing much worse.

UPDATED: The ABC reports that he’s appealing the sentence.

UPDATED: Just heard on the radio that he’s been bailed by the Supreme Court pending his appeal. ABC have it here

What’s Your opinion?


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38 Responses to
Michael Edward Hatch gets five months for child porn.
mdme workalot 11:34 am 16 Jul 08

Yeah, I get that DMD. Please don’t think I view possession of child pornography as a minor crime, because I don’t. I think jail time should always apply for this offence, however sadly this is not usually the case. I think this is because society still views possession of child pornography as an ‘indiscretion’, kind of like predominant attitudes towards drink/drug driving.

Deadmandrinking 11:15 am 16 Jul 08

What you should remember, however, mdme workalot, is that by downloading these images, you are creating a market for the production of these images, which involves the sexual abuse of children. So in a way, you are participating in the act itself.

Johnboy, you present an interesting point. However, it would be difficult to prove that the Police had any responsibility. They do need their officers to look at this stuff if they are to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice. It is up to the individual to determine whether they can at some point down the line, as I’m sure they can always walk away from the position if needs be.

mdme workalot 11:12 am 16 Jul 08

Interesting idea Johnboy, I never considered that.
For comparison, do you think the same would apply in the case of an employee of the Classification Board?

I think I would have to reject the shared responsibility argument, because I personally just don’t believe there is ever any excuse or mitigating factors for taking enjoyment out of child pornography. Maybe something to be said for the quality of psychological testing for the AFP recruits though?

I would also assume that those police officers who work in child pornography/abuse areas (or any other emotionally-draining areas of law enforcement) would have access to good quality counselling services and they should also be monitored closely for signs of (for want of a better word) deviation. I don’t know if this sort of thing already exists in the AFP, but perhaps it is worth investigating further.

Once again, I personally don’t believe the AFP is in any way responsible for this guys interest in child pornography, but I think steps could be taken to apprehend people like him earlier and therefore reduce the chance of them committing a more serious offence. Given I can think of 2 AFP officers in the last 12 months who have been convicted or charged with possession of child pornography, perhaps this should be considered further.

Off topic – great to have you back Johnboy, it’s good to see more local news and interest stories on RA and to have someone keeping a closer eye on comments. I really enjoy reading the stories, but very rarely comment because I think the attitudes of some people on here leave a lot to be desired. If I want to be insulted and degraded, I’ve got friends for that sort of thing 🙂

johnboy 10:19 am 16 Jul 08

@ mdme workalot,

Yes you make good points.

I’m also troubled here that he was sent out into the long grass to look at this stuff for the police.

If a part of him didn’t come back is he solely responsible?

I’m not normally a fan of the ‘blame society’ approach, but rather extreme here.

Anyway, the appeal court will rule on this.

mdme workalot 9:52 am 16 Jul 08

Johnboy – while I can certainly appreciate an opposing POV I think you may be barking up the wrong tree here. I seem to recall at the time his case was being heard there was conclusive evidence that he had managed to delete a large amount of material from his computers, and a search of his premises had uncovered a destroyed external hard drive which would seem to indicate he was in possession of much more material than what he was charged with. Hence, what seems, in the scheme of things quite a hefty sentence for possession of child pornography.

While I personally find the possession of child pornography abhorrent, I think it is worth noting that the offence should not be considered equal to the offence of sexual assault of minors. Don’t get me wrong – I believe the overwhelming majority of people who have been charged with possession of (serious, i.e. obviously underage children) child pornography will go on to commit sexual offences against minors. But I also believe in our justice system (maybe not the system as it operates now, but the system in theory), and I don’t think we can punish someone for an act they have not yet committed.

Considering charging and sentencing of perpetrators who assault or murder police officers is different to charges and sentencing of a perpetrator who assaults or murders a member of the general public, I think it is entirely reasonable to treat police officers who commit serious crimes differently. I think, given their standing in the community and their ability to exert power over more vulnerable members of society, they should be punished severely for offences such as this. Merely losing their jobs, families and social status is not enough.
(Hopping off the soapbox now :-P)

Pandy 9:14 am 16 Jul 08

5700 sites? Confused with 18+ yo adult sites

johnboy 8:53 am 16 Jul 08

Sounds like what your lawyers tell you to say to minimise a sentence.

I’m not saying he wasn’t guilty, the court has found that.

Hamilton 8:49 am 16 Jul 08

If he had a legitimate case that he received the images as Spam then he wouldnt be going to Jail now would he?

From the Canberra Times:

“The images were mainly of young girls aged between six and 14 in sexually explicit poses, some with their genitals exposed.”

“Hatch’s internet browser also listed more than 5700 child porn website addresses.”
He said he felt ”absolute disgust” at what he had done.

”It’s vile and I’ve been protecting the community, and children are the most vulnerable people in our community and I lost touch with that,” he said.

Doesn’t sound like it was an “accident” to me!

johnboy 8:45 am 16 Jul 08

I’m just asking how happy you’d be to take ownership of every image attached to every email in your spam-bucket?

Hamilton 8:42 am 16 Jul 08

“How sure are you that every single image on your hard drive is kosher? Every email attachment, every image in your browser cache from every web-site you’ve ever visited?”

So the guy was framed was he? You make it sound like these images appeared on his PC by accident, or maybe the kiddie fidler fairy put them there?

What world are you living in – a small number of images or not, the guy has broken the law (not in a j-walking kind of way, but with images of children being sexually abused!!) and he deserves to go down for it. Simple as that.

johnboy 8:30 am 16 Jul 08

Hamilton said :

Are you guys smoking crack? The guy was in posession of Child Porn images!!! In my opinion 5 months is a joke. What about the poor children being exploited in the images? Do you think they would be happy with his 5 month sentence? They have to live for the rest of their lives as sexual abuse victims.

It was a very small number of images, most cases we hear about they number in their thousands, whole hard drives stuffed with the filth. And my understanding is he did actually have a professional concern in the area with his work for the police.

How sure are you that every single image on your hard drive is kosher? Every email attachment, every image in your browser cache from every web-site you’ve ever visited?

Heck if they didn’t find anything you’d almost wonder why he’d gone to such lengths to cover tracks.

Hamilton 8:23 am 16 Jul 08

Are you guys smoking crack? The guy was in posession of Child Porn images!!! In my opinion 5 months is a joke. What about the poor children being exploited in the images? Do you think they would be happy with his 5 month sentence? They have to live for the rest of their lives as sexual abuse victims.

@ Tooks – you state that you think the sentence is appropriate, particularly given his position as a police officer – what’s that got to do with anything? If anything it should make the situation worse – here is a man in a high position of trust in posession of images of young children being sexualy abused. If a police officer raped a member of your family does it make it any less of a crime because they are a cop?

Pandy 11:23 pm 15 Jul 08

“I don’t know anything about child porn, but I do know it is art.” Pandy circa 2008

Tooks 7:13 pm 15 Jul 08

I think the sentence is appropriate, particularly given his position as a police officer. A custodial sentence might make others think twice about downloading kid porn (or it might just make them more careful about how they access and store it).

I don’t buy his excuse that he accessed the images as a challenge (I’d imagine child porn would be easy to access if you were that way inclined, and in no way a challenge).

As johnboy mentioned, the loss of his career, good name (and probably loss of friends) etc is probably a greater punishment than prison itself.

thecman 6:54 pm 15 Jul 08

Actually I feel the sentence in this case was reasonable and appropriate. But let’s get our facts straight first…

Hatch did not have any images on his work computer – they were all on his personal computer at his home. There were a total of 70 images, some involving children as young as four involved in sexual activity with adults. These images were not acquired accidentally, they were sought out deliberately.

Hatch did not admit he had a fixation with viewing sexual activity with children. Rather he stated that he had obtained the images as he enjoyed the challenge in accessing them. This suggests a lack of remorse for his acts – as opposed to his remorse at being caught, embarassing himself and his family, embarassing the AFP and his workmates, losing his job, the financial loss etc etc.

A custodial sentence should be the starting point for this type of offence – even more so for those offenders in a position of trust such as judges, lawyers, prosecutors and Police. In this instance Magistrate Fryar has delivered a fair and appropriate sentence – the only reason it appears excessive is that so few of our other Magistrates and Judges deliver similar sentences.

I wish Hatch a safe custodial sentence as well but i doubt there will be any real rehabilitation. While Magistrate Fryar could not take the step of classifying Hatch as a pedophile the fact that he sought out images depicting children involved in sexual activity with adults speaks for itself. It is very rare for pedophiles to be rehabilitated – their sexual preference is for children, that is how they are wired and changing that is extremely difficult. Imagine if governments criminalised heterosexual relationships and expected those in a hetero relationship to cease being attracted to or seeking out sexual relations with members of the opposite sex – it is not going to happen.

Those with a preference for children as sexual partners always remain a threat to children – past behaviour is the best predictor for future behaviour. Mr Hatch will remain a threat on release from prison.

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