Man pleads guilty to child porn charges after being caught in police sting

A Kelowna, B.C man has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and transmitting it on-line.

The plea by 42-year-old Christopher Martin Howard came after he was arrested for missing the start of his B.C. Supreme Court trial earlier this week.

The case relates to incidents in March and August of 2005, when a Toronto policeman posed as a pedophile in on-line dialogues with Howard in Kelowna.

The judge has ordered a pre-sentence report, while Howard stays in custody in Kamloops.

He’s expected to be sentenced in February.

Published in: on November 24, 2007 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Canadian officials arrest Tenn. man for child pornography

Tennessee and Canadian officials said a former Tennessee library worker is being held in a Canadian jail on child pornography charges.

Verpo Hawks was charged with possession and smuggling child pornography after border agents found computer printouts in his van at a border crossing into New Brunswick.

Corporal Jackie Basque of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they are still determining the amount of pornography found.

Hawks was arrested earlier this month, waived his right to bail and is being held in St. Stephens, New Brunswick.

His trial is set for December 19 and he will be provided free legal representation, if needed.

Knoxville authorities are waiting on Canadian officials to send them a statement from Hawks so they can search his residence in Tennessee.

Morgan County Acting Library Board Chairman Ralph Erickson said Wednesday that Hawks was formerly a part-time employee of the Coalfield public library.

Published in: on November 24, 2007 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sex offenders’ addresses do get checked

A woman convicted of a sex crime against a child is wanted on a warrant in Harrison County. She’s accused of giving a false address in her latest 90-day visit to a state driver’s license office.

A sheriff’s investigator obtained a warrant for 50-year-old Beatrice Garza Soliz after learning she doesn’t live on Bohn Street in Biloxi, said Sheriff’s Capt. Ron Pullen.

The owner of the home has never heard of her, according to a Sound Off. The caller blamed the Sheriff’s Department for failing to ask for proof to confirm Soliz’s address. But that’s not the case, said Pullen.

“She was registered with us,” Pullen said, “but once she changed her address through the state, they notified us of the change and we updated our records. We just found out that the state Department of Public Safety didn’t ask for proof of address and doesn’t require proof. We’re trying to get them to change that.”

DPS spokeswoman Delores Lewis said that’s not her understanding of how the state keeps track of where sex offenders live.

“Generally speaking, we do address verification,” Lewis said, “but I can’t speak to that specific situation. I would have to look into it.”

Mississippi requires convicted sex offenders to register with the sheriff’s office in the county they move to after serving their time. A law change in 2005 requires them to verify their address in person every 90 days at a state driver’s license office.

“We require them to show a power bill, a water bill, a rental agreement or something similar with their name on it when they register with us,” said Pullen.

After an offender registers or moves elsewhere in Harrison County, the Sheriff’s Department sends out a postcard to notify neighbors.

The state Sex Offender Registry shows Soliz, convicted in 1992 of indecency with a child/sexual contact, in Fresno County, Calif., last verified her address Oct. 24.

“If we send someone to their address and cannot make contact, we take it a step further and send an investigator,” said Pullen. “If they don’t live there, we don’t hunt them down to ask them to register. We get a warrant.”

Failing to register or providing a false address is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Anyone who knows of Soliz’ whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at 865-7060 or the nearest police department. Records show Soliz has used similar names, including Beatriz and Gutierrez as first or last names.

Published in: on November 24, 2007 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chadstone child molester jailed

A MAN who committed indecent acts on a nine-year-old girl after luring her into a change room at Myer Chadstone has been sentenced to two years’ jail.

Mohammad Sehnawaz Khan, 31, an Indian, was in Australia on a bogus student visa when he approached the girl and her sister, 8, in the department store’s toy section on March 14, the County Court heard yesterday.

He asked the girl to try on clothes that he claimed he wanted to send to his niece in India. She initially refused, but finally agreed in order to get rid of him, insisting her sister come along, too. Khan went into a change room with the girl and indecently touched, hugged and kissed her, while instructing her sister to take a photo of them with his mobile phone.

The girl ran out of the change room and was crying when she found her parents, who were waiting outside the entrance to the store, the court heard. The girls provided a description of Khan to police, who arrested him after security footage was shown on CrimeStoppers.

Khan pleaded guilty to three charges of wilfully committing an indecent act on a child under 16.

In a victim impact statement, the girls’ mother said her daughters suffered nightmares and wet their beds as a result of the attack, fearing Khan would come to their house to look for them. “We’ve had to reassure them constantly that not all men are like that,” she said.

Judge Michael Higgins said a psychiatrist’s report noted that Khan did not suffer from any mental illness and denied any feelings of pedophilia.

Khan’s plea of guilty, which saved the girls from giving evidence, was the only mitigating factor he could consider with regard to sentencing, he said.

Judge Higgins did not set a minimum term for Khan, who will be deported when he is released from jail.

Published in: on November 24, 2007 at 7:02 am  Leave a Comment