An international child pornography sting has snared its first conviction in South Australia with the sentencing of a man in the District Court.
Jeffrey Wayne Croser, 52, of Golden Grove in Adelaide had pleaded guilty to downloading about 5,500 pornographic images of children.
He was one of eight South Australian men arrested through the international police Operation Centurion last year.
Jeffrey Wayne Croser ran from court shielding his face with a jacket, minutes after Judge Rauf Soulio spared him from a prison term.
The Golden Grove man kept his face hidden as he was driven through the Central Markets and along busy Gouger St with his wife and daughter, who both wrote letters of support to the judge.
Croser, 52, was arrested in May last year as part of an international child pornography sting run by Interpol.
Detectives swooped on Croser’s home after Interpol found large quantities of child pornography being downloaded to the address.
When detectives seized his laptop, computer tower and hard drive, they only found two images that could be classified as child pornography.
However, a closer inspection by forensic technicians found more than 5500 images that Croser had deleted and he later pleaded guilty to one count of using a carriage service to access child pornography.
More than 5,000 of the images were classified at the lower end of seriousness, involving children in erotic poses.
But Judge Soulio said that a number of others were on the higher end of the scale, including acts of bestiality and sadism and sex acts involving children as young as three.
Judge Soulio said up to 1000 different children were depicted in the collection, which Croser downloaded over about 18 months.
Croser – who quit his job as a production design consultant with a major car company after his arrest – told a psychologist that he had accessed the illegal images as a “stress reducer” when he was working up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
Judge Soulio said Croser was swept up in the “challenge of finding material which was described as increasingly risque”.
The judge said he was faced with a “finely balanced” decision on whether Croser should be jailed for behaving in a “morally and legally repugnant way”.
Judge Soulio said because Croser had not stored the pornography or shared it with anyone else, his 18-month prison term should be suspended on the condition he enter into a good behaviour bond and attend a sexual offenders treatment program.