STRESS, not sexual gratification, was the reason former ABC presenter Andy Muirhead looked at child pornography, a court was told yesterday.
Nanjing Night Net

The former host of the Collectors television show has pleaded guilty to accessing and possessing child pornography, and is waiting to be sentenced.

Dr Janet Haines, a psychologist who treated Muirhead, told a pre-sentence hearing in the Supreme Court in Hobart that stress had led the 36-year- old to access child pornography.

Dr Haines saw no indication Muirhead had a sexual interest in children throughout the 20 sessions conducted with him.

She concluded he fell into a small category of people who access child pornography for other reasons – in this case, work-related stress.

“(He worked) to the point where he was exhausted, where he didn’t have any balance in his life … (and) that level of pressure increases people’s stress levels and increases their level of arousal,” she said.

Initially, Muirhead looked at adult pornography for sexual gratification, but Dr Haines said that wore off quickly and he then stumbled upon child pornography.

“His response to it was shock,” she said, and this shock acted as a stress relief.

Prosecution barrister Maitland Lincoln argued there was a serious risk of reoffending as Muirhead had looked at more than 12,000 child pornography images, of varying seriousness, over 16 months.

He also used peer-to-peer software and accessed videos with titles like Girls Play with Young Boys.

“If one skips over that, and ignores it, the court does that at its own peril,” Mr Lincoln said.

Police submitted a further 5840 images from Muirhead’s computer that Mr Lincoln argued strengthened the case.

Mr Lincoln said the pictures weren’t classed as child pornography but did depict children “in various stages of undress, wearing underwear, bikinis and swimwear, but with no sexual posing”.

Defence counsel Kim Baumeler said the prosecution had accepted the experience and expertise of the witness, and had chosen not to seek a second psychologist’s opinion.

“Despite (Dr Haines) having that information (about the number and type of image, as well as length of offending) she has still come to this conclusion (it was not for sexual gratification),” Ms Baumeler said.

Chief Justice Ewan Crawford said: “You ask me to believe he didn’t have it when obviously most people (guilty of child pornography offences) would have a sexual interest in it.”

Muirhead was remanded for sentencing on October 1.

The former host of the Collectors television show has pleaded guilty to accessing and possessing child pornography, and is waiting to be sentenced.

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