Judge repulsed by child porn case

Rosie Mullaley rmullaley@thetelegram.com
Published on July 14, 2012
Craig St. John. — Telegram file photo.

He was found with tens of thousands of child pornography photos and videos. The collection included adults raping babies and toddlers, forcing them to have anal and oral sex.

But Craig St. John didn’t just look at the images. He shared them with people around the world and encouraged other people, including a 14-year-old boy, to do the same.

“The nature of the collection is extremely disturbing,” Judge Mike Madden said, reading from his written sentencing decision in provincial court in St. John’s Friday.

The judge sentenced St. John to three years in jail, with 30 days’ credit for time already spent in custody.

The 30-year-old pleaded guilty to four charges — two counts of possessing child pornography and one count each of distributing child porn and Internet luring.

The RNC first became aware of what St. John was doing in October 2010, when they were contacted by the RCMP in Saskatchewan. An officer from that force had started tracking someone online who was distributing child porn through a file-sharing website. Tracking the computer led police to St. John’s home.

RNC officers searched his house on June 1, 2011, and seized a laptop that contained 12,842 different images and a further 1,187 videos of child porn.

There were also extensive transcripts of Skype conversations St. John had with other users involving child porn. On a regular basis, he logged onto Skype and transmitted child porn to other Skype users.

St. John would offer to send the porn if the other user appeared on webcam. He would encourage the other user to undress and masturbate in exchange for child porn.

While that case was under investigation, he managed to get himself another computer and continued distributing child porn.

On many occasions, he would stalk websites catering to sexually confused teenagers — offering to send them porn in exchange for performing sexual acts for the camera.

In October 2011, St. John had an online conversation with a 14-year-old boy in the U.K. and sent the boy child pornography in exchange for watching him masturbate via a webcam.

The teen eventually turned the porn over to police, saying it disturbed him.

“This is the use of child pornography for seduction purposes,” the judge said. “That is not without a psychological impact on the 14-year-old.”

Police in London, England, tracked St. John and contacted the RNC.

On Oct. 28, 2011, the RNC searched St. John’s house in the Goulds again and seized a laptop, which had 338 other images of child porn and one video. Officers again found Skype transcripts of conversations similar to those found on the first computer.

The transcripts revealed that St. John had been boasting about forcibly abducting children and explaining to users how he recruits younger and younger victims.

St. John was then taken into custody and has been behind bars ever since.

During a sentencing hearing last month, Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland had asked for a 3 1/2-year prison term, pointing out that child porn had become like a drug to St. John, who had rebuilt his collection of child porn twice.

Defence lawyer Randy Piercey said 2 1/2 years was more appropriate.

In making his decision, Madden took St. John’s background into consideration.

St. John is engaged to a woman, who continues to support him.

He reported he was sexually molested between the ages of five and 10 years old and has attempted suicide three times — the latest just after he was charged.

St. John obtained two certificates from College of the North Atlantic and had been employed before his arrest.

He has sought counselling since being charged and was co-operative with police in their investigation. Madden noted that St. John never attempted to meet with the boys he contacted on the Internet.

However, the judge could not ignore the many aggravating factors — the multiple offences all involving the exploitation of children, the duration of the offences, the size of his child porn collection, the nature of the material and his lack of empathy.

“You had no more compassion or understanding of the impact you were having on those you were hunting on the Internet than those who you claim abused you as a child,” Madden said.

The judge said St. John helped keep the market for child porn alive.

“These criminals who sexually assault children and record their activities seek, need an audience,” Madden said.

“Mr. St. John provided that audience by viewing images himself. Mr. St. John increased that audience through distribution.”

Despite his personal revulsion for St. John’s behaviour, Madden said he had to adhere to the principles of sentencing and keep the sentence in line with previous similar cases.

As part of the sentence, St. John must submit a DNA sample, and his name will be listed on the national Sex Offender Registry for 20 years.

He’s also banned from being near playgrounds, schools, daycares or anywhere else where there might be children. He can’t have a job in which he is in a position of trust or authority over children and is not permitted to use a computer to communicate with anyone younger than 16.

St. John showed no reaction to the judge’s decision.

Before and after proceedings, he hung his head and managed to hide his face from reporters’ cameras with his beard and hair, which was notably longer than when he was first arrested.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt