A Urana man who downloaded more than 1500 child abuse images initially protested his innocence, saying he merely admired the “beauty” of the human form.
Ernest Edward Bywater was to have contested the charges on Friday.
But in what was the 16th listing of the matter since his first appearance on May 17, 2016, the 54-year-old heavily obese man changed his plea after several possess child abuse material charges were dropped
Instead, Bywater pleaded guilty in Albury Local Court to single counts of possess child abuse material and use a carriage service to access child abuse material.
Prosecutor Sergeant Andrew Coombs asked magistrate Rodney Brender to view the images in order to give the court a clear picture of the subjective seriousness of Bywater’s crime.
“I won’t do that,” he replied, pointing out how a category rating system existed for such a purpose.
Mr Brender said it would still be open to the prosecution to make such an application at the time of the sentence hearing, which he set down for September 27.
Defence solicitor Joe Blackshield said he would strongly oppose this as it would run contrary to the facts agreement reached with police.
Albury detectives began investigating Bywater in October of 2014. A few months later they obtained a search warrant, which they used to seize electronic storage devices from Bywater’s Princess Street home on July 22, 2015.
On November 24 that year, Bywater went to Wagga police station and agreed to be interviewed.
Police asked him if he downloaded child abuse material.
“The accused indicate that ‘in his mind’ he did not consider the images to be of children engaged in sexual activity or sexual poses.”
Children in the 1500-plus images were aged between five and 16. He was interviewed at Albury police station on April 28, 2016.
“During the course of the interview the accused admitted to accessing and downloading onto his computer a number of images depicting children that were naked or semi-naked who appeared to be under 16 years of age,” police said.
“The accused stated that he had downloaded hundreds of images of children with photogenic faces and expressions for himself as he enjoyed the natural beauty of the human form.”
Police forensic investigations found 145 images and 28 videos in the most serious category of abuse.
A pre-sentence report will be prepared.
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