A public servant has avoided jail after pleading guilty to accessing child abuse material after going to great lengths to hide it from his partner.
A public servant has avoided jail after pleading guilty to accessing child abuse material after going to great lengths to hide it from his partner.

Public servant‘s secret child abuse material habit

A Queensland public servant used a sophisticated program to wipe evidence of child abuse material from his computer in a bid to hide his vile habit from his partner, a court has been told.

Mark David Clifford's policy of "I view, I use, I delete" came back to bite him when officers forensically examined his computer, discovering he had used multiple online platforms to access the files.

Last week, he pleaded guilty at Brisbane District Court to one count of using a carriage service to access child abuse material.

Clifford was remanded in custody for Judge Paul Smith to consider his sentencing remarks over the weekend.

On Monday, the court was told of the extent of his network when police executed a search warrant on his property in November last year.

Clifford, 33 at the time, was not forthcoming to officers and denied accessing the material with his partner present.

He became distressed and later admitted to accessing the material by using sites like the peer-to-peer network Freenet.

A digital examination revealed more than 130 child exploitation images were stored in zip files contained on his Freenet account.

Several other files were found on his computer.

"The Crown points out the offending occurred over about three years and five months although they concede you did not access the material every day," Judge Smith said.

"There were references in the file paths to children as young as seven."

Clifford said he accessed child pornography websites at times using anonymising web browser to conduct his searches.

He used a program on his computer to remove the evidence of his searches to keep his partner from knowing.

"You explained a few years prior when you were about 19 at your parents' place, police questioned you about your use of peer-to-peer networks," Judge Smith said.

"You wished it had been enough to scare you off it forever."

Judge Smith said Clifford, who had worked as a technical support officer for the Queensland Government, had admitted to wanting help to treat his attraction to child exploitation material for years but was too afraid to ask.

A report from a psychologist said he was addicted to pornography, having viewed it frequently since he was 11, and was suffering from "severe mental health impairments" at the time of his offending.

Judge Smith noted Clifford had taken steps to stop himself from viewing pornography by installing security software and had gained insight into his offending.

"He notes your risk of reoffending is in the medium-risk scale and it would be best managed with formal supervision," Judge Smith said.

Clifford was sentenced to 15 months' jail but Judge Smith ordered his release forthwith upon entering a recognisance release order for two years.

Originally published as Public servant's secret child porn habit


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