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Torbay man gets three-year jail term in child porn case

Matthew Kerr was back in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Friday to hear the sentencing decision in his child pornography case.
Matthew Kerr was back in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Friday to hear the sentencing decision in his child pornography case.

A Torbay man caught with hundreds of images and videos of child pornography has been sentenced to a three-year prison term. 

With credit given for time also spent in custody, Matthew Kerr has just under two years left on his term. 

The sentence, handed down by Justice Donald Burrage today (Friday) in Newfoundland Supreme Court, includes a three-year probation order, with conditions that he abstain from using a computer or any device that has access to the Internet. The exception would be if he has to use the Internet for work or education purposes.

Burrage also imposed an order that prohibits Kerr — for the next 20 years — from attending any park, school, daycare or any other area where children would be. He’s also banned from working or volunteering anywhere he would be in a position of trust or authority over children under the age of 16.

Kerr will also have his name listed on the National Sex Registry for the rest of his life.

Burrage said the sentence “serves both to deter others from similar contact and to denounce behaviour which society regards as abhorrent:

the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, as fostered through the possession and distribution of child pornography.”

However, the judge noted that Kerr is a first-time offender and he will eventually be freed from jail, so the sentence must provide the chance for him to rehabilitate and to learn to control his impulses. 

He said it was important to put measures in place for future protection of “those most vulnerable, our children.”

The 35-year-old Kerr pleaded guilty to charges of possessing and distributing child porn, as well as breaching court orders, in relation to two separate incidents in about a year — August 2015 and August 2016.

According to the agreed statement of facts, Kerr was being investigated in April 2014 as part of a larger investigation, dubbed Operation Snapshot 2. However, he wasn’t arrested until August 2015, after his sister borrowed his laptops and discovered nude photos of young boys between the ages of four and 14 engaged in sexual acts on the desktop and in the search history.

She reported it to the RNC, and police seized several other images and videos from his electronic devices during a search warrant. Officers also found evidence that Kerr had visited several other websites and was downloading and distributing the images, as well as videos, on chat logs.

In total, he had 470 unique images and 146 movies.

Kerr had been in custody after that incident, but after appearing in provincial court he was released from jail on a recognizance, with conditions that he not access the Internet or have a mobile device or cellphone that can access the Internet.

However, in August 2016, the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the United States received a tip that a person at a particular IP address accessed the Internet and uploaded almost 200 child porn images. An investigation determined the IP address was at Kerr’s address in Torbay.

After officers executed a search warrant on his residence, they found that Kerr had downloaded and was sharing child porn images on his phone. He was arrested in October 2016.

During the sentencing hearing earlier this week, Crown prosecutor Dana Sullivan said that due to the seriousness of the crime and the fact there were two incidents, Kerr should get a 3 1/2- to four-year jail term.

Defence lawyer Shelley Senior said a sentence of two years and three or four months, with three years’ probation, is more appropriate for Kerr, who hadn’t been in trouble with the law and was a hard worker before these incidents.

She told the judge that Kerr was born with brain damage, was raised by a single mother and struggled with a severe learning disability growing up. She said that when he was between the ages of eight and 17, he was sexually assaulted by a friend’s father, who threatened to kill his family and burn his house if he told anyone.

The judge said Kerr knew what he was doing was wrong — as he immediately confessed to police after getting caught — “yet he did it anyway.”

Burrage went on to say, “There is something in Mr. Kerr’s psychic which drove him to engage in the behaviour for which he was convicted. Whether this behaviour has its Genesis in any abuse during Mr. Kerr’s childhood is beyond the scope of this decision. It will be for others trained in such matters, and, above all, Mr. Kerr himself, to wrestle these demons into submission. But wrestle them he must, if he is to advance as a productive member of society.”

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyRosie

 

 

 

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