P­lett man gets 15 y­e­ars

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Voorblad - Yo­lan­dé S­tan­der

C­heers of e­la­ti­on e­choed through the T­hem­ba­let­hu Re­gi­o­nal Court on Tu­es­day w­hen, af­ter al­most three y­e­ars, the P­let­ten­berg Bay man who ple­a­ded guil­ty to al­most 19 000 char­ges of c­hild por­no­grap­hy pos­ses­si­on, was sen­ten­ced to 15 y­e­ars be­hind bars.

This is be­lie­ved to be the hars­hest sen­ten­ce e­ver han­ded do­wn in a pos­ses­si­on of c­hild por­no­grap­hy ca­se in South A­fri­ca, and al­so in­vol­ved the hig­hest num­ber of i­ma­ges.

Wil­li­am Be­a­le (39) was furt­her sen­ten­ced a R500 fi­ne or 30 days in pri­son for the pos­ses­si­on of dag­ga af­ter po­li­ce found a small a­mount du­ring his high-pro­fi­le ar­rest in Ja­nu­a­ry 2015.

Be­a­le, a com­pu­ter en­gi­neer, was the first South A­fri­can to ha­ve been ar­res­ted as part of a joint ef­fort by South A­fri­can and Bel­gi­an po­li­ce cracking do­wn on an in­ter­na­ti­o­nal c­hild por­no­grap­hy ring. Fol­lo­wing his ar­rest at his se­a­si­de ho­me in P­lett, po­li­ce found thou­sands of i­ma­ges and vi­de­os of child­ren being tor­tu­red, ra­ped and e­ven mur­de­red on his com­pu­ter.

He was i­ni­ti­al­ly char­ged with just short of 180 000 counts of pos­ses­si­on of c­hild por­no­grap­hy, but du­ring a plea agreement in Fe­bru­a­ry this y­e­ar, he ple­a­ded guil­ty to on­ly 18 644.

Be­a­le was trac­ked do­wn fol­lo­wing the ar­rest of an al­le­ged pa­e­dophi­le in Bel­gi­um in Oc­to­ber 2014.

Whi­le u­sing the sus­pect’s pro­fi­le, mem­bers of the Ant­werp po­li­ce c­hild sexu­al ex­ploi­ta­ti­on u­nit found the P­let­ten­berg Bay man’s in­ter­net ad­dress af­ter co­ming a­cross the cy­ber meet­ing pla­ce.

Du­ring sen­ten­cing, ma­gi­stra­te Eu­ge­nia

Ja­cobs said it was im­por­tant to high­lig­ht the se­ri­ous­ness of Be­a­le’s cri­mes. She ad­ded that the i­ma­ges in­vol­ved de­picted the most hor­ri­fic acts i­ma­gi­na­ble on child­ren – so­me ba­bies we­re so small that they ha­ve not e­ven le­arnt to walk yet.

She ad­ded that whi­le ta­king in­to ac­count all sen­ten­ce op­ti­ons, she ca­me to the re­a­li­sa­ti­on that a non­cus­to­di­al sen­ten­ce would be a to­tal dis­re­gard of the gra­vi­ty of the cri­me.

Ja­cobs furt­her said that in the past, courts de­alt with c­hild por­no­grap­hy pos­ses­si­on re­la­ti­ve­ly lig­ht­ly but in re­cent y­e­ars ha­ve co­me to re­a­li­se the se­ri­ous­ness of the cri­mes and ha­ve op­ted for stricter sen­ten­ces.

“This sen­ten­ce should send a cle­ar mes­sa­ge to the pu­blic that t­he­se cri­mes are u­naccep­ta­ble and will not be to­le­ra­ted.

“Im­pri­son­ment will de­ter the accu­sed from re­pe­a­ting si­mi­lar cri­mes and al­so de­ter ot­hers from com­mit­ting such of­fen­ces,” Ja­cobs said.

“If the courts and the com­mu­ni­ty are not the voi­ces for the voi­ce­less, who will be?” she po­sed.

The ma­gi­stra­te al­so said that the­re we­re se­ver­al ag­gra­va­ting fac­tors ta­ken in­to con­si­de­ra­ti­on du­ring sen­ten­cing, in­clu­ding the vast num­ber of i­ma­ges and the fact that Be­a­le had acces­sed the “dark web” to find the i­ma­ges. By vie­wing the i­ma­ges, she said, Be­a­le play­ed a part in let­ting the in­du­stry thri­ve. “Su­re­ly, if pe­op­le stop­ped vie­wing t­he­se i­ma­ges, the in­du­stry would col­lap­se.”

The fact that he did not com­mit a con­tact cri­me was ir­re­le­vant, Ja­cobs ad­ded, as with e­ach “click of a but­ton” a c­hild’s rig­hts had been in­frin­ged.

P­ho­tos: Yo­lan­de S­tan­der

Wil­li­am Be­a­le caug­ht be­fo­re en­te­ring the T­hem­ba­let­hu Re­gi­o­nal Court on Tu­es­day for sen­ten­cing.

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