Horrific images of torture to babies
Not only were horrific details about the thousands of images found in the possession of a Plettenberg Bay computer engineer – who pleaded guilty to about 19 000 charges of child pornography recently – revealed as sentencing proceedings started, but major inadequacies in terms of monitoring online sexual predators under correctional supervision were highlighted.
William Beale took his place in the dock in the Knysna Regional Court Friday June 30, 2017 for sentencing in the matter, which has been dragging on for more than two and a half years, to get underway.
This after the 39-year-old pleaded guilty to about 19 000 charges of possession of child pornography in February this year following his arrest by international police in January 2015. He was subsequently released on R10 000 bail and relocated to Kimberley to live with his brother and his family.
Beale was the first South African to have been arrested as part of Operation Cloud 9. The operation involved cooperation between South African and Belgian police responsible for cracking down on an international child pornography ring linked to a cyber meeting space for paedophiles whose fetishes seem to be the sexual abuse of babies. Some of the images found included the torture and murder of babies as young as only a few days old.
IMAGES TO HORRIFIC TO PUBLISH
When Beale was arrested police found sections of files containing thousands of videos and violent assaults, as well as internet addresses of more than 300 alleged paedophiles. As sentencing proceedings started on Friday Magistrate Eugenia Jacobs said that because of the sensitive nature of the images in question, these could not be discussed in an open court. She therefore, with the relevant roleplayers, viewed a “sample” of the images in her chambers.
She said these could be divided into various categories and included images of infants, toddlers and teenagers. The images also ranged from the bondage and rape of babies to other deviant sexual acts being performed on children. Even the categories of these crimes depicted in the images are too horrific to publish.
“We are shocked to the core hearing the horrific details of what the victims in those images had to endure. It is absolutely sickening,” said Women and Men Against Child Abuse Western Cape spokesman Joanne Barrett. She and several other antichild abuse activists, including Plettenberg Bay’s Green Hearts, attended court proceedings.
Among the witnesses who testified as part of sentencing proceedings on Friday was George clinical psychologist Tjaart van der Walt who was called for mitigation of sentence.
BEALE HAD SUFFERED SEVERE ABUSE
Van der Walt testified that Beale had suffered severe abuse – sexual, physical and psychological – as a child and that this was a contributing factor to developing deviant sexual interests.
He added that after consulting with Beale, it became apparent that he suffered from several disorders including paedophilia and suffered from among others strong anti-social behavioural traits.
Van der Walt said while there was no cure for paedophilia and no “best practice” treatment for it, that research had shown that “hands-off online” offenders – which did not include physical abuse of children –had a low likelihood of reoffending or developing into “contact” criminals. He also testified that, to his, knowledge there was no evidence that Beale had groomed any child for abuse and that his viewing of child pornography was like an addition. “He admitted that he would often binge watch for up to eight hours at a time,” Van der Walt said. A correctional services report was also handed in as evidence and suggested that Beale was a candidate for correctional supervision, but prosecutor Gerda Marx pointed out that there was no monitoring programme in place in terms of his online activity. Correctional supervision only includes several visits, including to the convicted person’s home and work.
“Correctional supervision should not even be an option. How can you monitor someone, whose crimes happened online, to ensure that he does not reoffend?” Barrett said.
Marx also pointed out that when a person was convicted, these visits happened frequently – about eight visits a month – but should the person show good behaviour, he or she was seen as a lower risk after six months and the number of visits reduced. In some cases the visits can be reduced to only two a month after only a year.
The matter was postponed to October 4, 2017 for the continuation of sentencing when the state is expected to cross-examine Van der Walt and call another expert witness.
He was subsequently released on R10 000 bail and relocated to Kimberley to live with his brother and his family.