FORMER Whitsunday Anglican School teacher and assistant chaplain Chris Firman was exposed as a pervert when 211 child porn images of young girls were found on his computer in Perth in 2004.
Part of his vile collection included a picture, taken by himself, of a 15-year-old female student at the school in Mackay in 1999.
Firman pleaded not guilty in the District Court to four charges of taking indecent pictures of his former student. He claimed the images were artistic, in a classic pose, and were not seedy.
He even told the girl that Adam and Eve were naked and it was natural.
But a Mackay jury of eight women and four men convicted him yesterday, applying community standards as their test of decency, and he was jailed for 18 months, to be released after serving 10 months.
Eleven of the 12 jurors sat in the public gallery to hear the sentencing and some gasped for breath when they heard that Firman was convicted in 2007 of possessing child porn in Perth.
The Perth offence included 211 child porn images of girls aged 13 to 16.
The Mackay jury heard that the Whitsunday Anglican School Year 10 girl agreed to have the 1999 photos taken and the only issue on trial was whether the four pictures were “indecent”.
Two showed her topless, one showed her wearing a see-through gown with her breasts visible, and the other one was of her lying facedown and naked and showing her back and bottom.
The jurors took more than four hours to find that they were indecent.
Judge Leanne Clare, SC, in sentencing Firman, said: “You were a trusted teacher and confidant. She was lonely and had developed an unhealthy attachment to you.
“You actively tried to persuade her to expose her body for your camera.
“You manipulated her, deceived her mother by making a false invitation to get the girl alone in a house.
“You talked her through an alibi because if her mother knew what she was doing she would not have allowed it.
“You took those photos not for her – but to satisfy your own improper interest in her.
“This was a gross betrayal of trust that a very young, impressionable girl had placed in you.
“It caused her suffering and pain and she needs ongoing therapy.
“The sentence should send a clear message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated and children need to be protected.”
Crown prosecutor Brendan Manttan revealed for the first time yesterday that the Mackay investigations started after the 211 child porn images were found in Perth in 2004.
Mr Manttan said there was a 26-year age difference between Firman and the girl and he suggested that Firman had groomed the girl over time to convince her to pose for him. He also invited the jury to infer that Firman took the images for sexual gratification.
Defence barrister Paddy Cullinane had argued unsuccessfully to the jury that the pictures were artistic, were not indecent and that the case involved no touching and no talk of sexual activities.
He also argued that nudity in itself was not indecent.
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