Former ABC Host Andy Muirhead was sentenced on Monday by the Tasmania Supreme Court for 10 months over charges of child pornography. The basis of his sentence in a decision written by Chief Justice Ewan Crawford was evidence that Mr Muirhead had stashed a large collection of photographs and videos of child porn in his personal computer between February 2009 and June 2010.
The 36-year-old former ABC host pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child porn and two counts of using the Internet to access such types of materials. Dr Janet Baines, his psychologist, claimed that Mr Muirhead downloaded the images whose shocking content helped the accused relieve work stress.
"I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he downloaded the offending material because he was sexually excited by it. I am satisfied that he has a sexual interest because of the quantity of the material downloaded by him, its nature, he downloaded it on numerous occasions exceeding 15 months," The Mercury quoted Mr Crawford's decision which rejected the psychologist's explanation.
"A considerable number of exploited children were depicted in the materials and the court must condemn what he did by imposing imprisonment," Mr Crawford added.
Ironically, Mr Muirhead hosted an ABC program titled Collectors and it was his child porn collection that caused him to be placed on the sex offenders register for five years after his release, forfeiture of his computer and an order to pay the victims of the crime.
Mr Muirhead, a biologist who used to work with Forestry Tasmania, shot to national fame when he hosted the ABC TV show and a Hobart morning radio programme. He initially started as an audience warm-up man for Collectors and eventually became co-host of the show which earned him $150,000 a year.
The Australian police became aware of his child porn collection activities when the Interpol alerted it that an Internet protocol address in Tasmania was downloading four images of child pornography. The address was eventually traced to Mr Muirhead, who said he was stressed by overwork and a broken relationship.
When police investigated the computer at his Battery Point house on June 8, 2010, they discovered over 12,000 images and 24 videos of children in erotic poses and engaged in sexual acts including sadism, bestiality and bondage.
"Words can't describe how embarrassed and ashamed I am. I'd like the court to know that I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the consequences. What I did was shameful, reckless and stupid. The things that I saw on my computer were vile and disgusting," Mr Muirhead said in a statement.
He is scheduled to be released in five months due to the backdating of his first sentence and the reduction of the second sentence.
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