A former Illawarra cop has escaped jail time after he was found with child abuse material on his iPhone while he was employed with the NSW Police Force.
Former senior constable Daniel Houweling, 38, told Judge Andrew Haesler during a sentencing hearing on he first noticed an attraction to young girls when he was 13, but rejected it out of fear of consequence.
The court heard his offending began to escalate due to work and relationship stress before he was charged in 2020. Last year, Houweling pleaded guilty to possessing child abuse material using carriage service and use carriage service to access child abuse, after hundreds of disturbing images were found on his phone.
In documents tendered to the court, it was revealed the father of two was arrested on March 31, 2020, after police attended his Horsely home and seized several devices.
On his phone, officers from the Professional Standards Command found 237 images and seven videos of child abuse material.
According to the documents, 10 illegal images were located in a folder named ‘documents’, depicting pre-pubescent females in various stages of undress, engaging in sexually explicit poses.
The remaining 227 images and videos existed as cache files on the phone, some of which had been accessed via Twitter. The images again depicted pre-pubescent girls, while the videos were animations of children engaging in sexual intercourse.
In court, Houweling said he had sought counselling once anonymously online because he was aware he had a problem, however said he never wanted to have sex with children.
“I would look at images that weren’t appropriate but I never wanted to look at anything illegal,” he said.
“I never wanted to see children abused because I knew that would upset me.”
As for one of the videos he accessed on Twitter that showed high levels of sex and violence, Houweling said it was something he “stumbled upon” rather than sought out, saying he “didn’t find it appealing”.
The court heard that as a result of his offending, Houweling’s marriage had broken down and he was back living with his parents.
In giving evidence in court, forensic psychologist Miriam Wyzenbeek told the court Houweling had a “longstanding” pedophilic interest in children, but that he had shown remorse and “expressed responsibility” for his actions.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Haesler noted Houweling was now undertaking treatment for his pedophilic attraction, sentencing him to an 18-month suspended jail sentence, ordering he pay a $400 fine, continue sex offender therapy and undertake 100 hours community service.
He will also be placed on the sex offenders registry.
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