Minimum sentence for child porn

Surrey Provincial Court. - File phot
Surrey Provincial Court.
— image credit: File phot

A man who was fired from his job at Wal-Mart and lost his White Rock condominium after child-porn was found on his computer will spend the next seven weekends in jail for accessing the “disturbing” images.

The 14-day term was handed to Garth Steeves Wednesday morning in Surrey Provincial Court, more than two years after police searched his home.

In imposing the term – which is the mandatory minimum sentence for the crime – Judge James Bahen considered, among other factors, the “quite low” number of illicit images that were found on Steeves’ laptop. At the same time, while the actions may have begun by accident, “there was an ongoing decision by Mr. Steeves to deliberately access these images.”

The computer was one of two seized by police in an April 28, 2010, search of Steeves’ home.

After examining the devices, investigators concluded eight images on one hard drive matched the definition of child pornography, prosecutor Beverley Lane told Bahen. Each depicted a “fully naked” boy between the ages of eight and 14 years old in various poses, she said.

While none of the images depicted sexual acts, Lane said the gravity of even accessing them cannot be ignored.

“These types of crimes, child pornography and the consumption of that product, further victimizes… young people who may be victims of further productions of this sort,” she said.

Lane told Bahen that Steeves came to the attention of local police after officers with the Toronto Police Service were alerted to “disturbing” images that had been exchanged via email. The account and IP address were linked to Steeves, and the search by members of the RCMP’s Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) and Technological Crime units followed.

Charges – including accessing child pornography, making or publishing child pornography and importing or distributing child pornography – were announced in October 2010.

Steeves pleaded guilty in March to the first count; the remaining two charges were stayed.

Wednesday, Steeves’ lawyer, Stephen Hutchison, told Bahen that his client has been profoundly affected by his actions. In addition to losing a job he’d held for 19 years – including the past few years as manager – and his home, most of Steeves’ friends and family have “disappeared, essentially.”

He noted Steeves now lives in a hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and was learning his fate on the one-year anniversary of his father’s death.

Steeves recognizes what he did was wrong, and is sorry, Hutchison said.

Steeves is to begin serving his sentence at 6 p.m. Friday. Bahen also ordered Steeves to provide a DNA sample and imposed 18 months’ probation with conditions including not to be within 50 metres of where children congregate.

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