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Disgraced former business titan Ron Brierley has been jailed after being convicted of possessing child abuse material.
Disgraced former business titan Ronald Brierley has been jailed after he was discovered with a cache of child abuse material, completing his spectacular fall from grace.
The New Zealand-born corporate raider faced up to 10 years in prison after being caught in 2019 with a large number of illegal images on his laptop at Sydney Airport.
Brierley hung his head as he watched criminal proceedings in the Downing Center District Court in Sydney on Thursday.
Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of child abuse material.
The former head of the Bank of New Zealand and former board member of SCG Trust had claimed he was unaware the images were illegal.
“I think they’re all, they’re perfectly fine,” Brierley told the officers, according to an agreed fact sheet.
He also added that he looked to them for “recreation” and found them “interesting”.
A trove of 11,756 images of child abuse material were discovered on his laptop and two USBs when he was stopped by Australian Border Force agents on his way to Fiji on December 17, 2019.
When police raided his home in Point Piper, they found an additional 35,030 images of child abuse material on his laptop and USBs.
It is not known exactly how many pieces of child porn material were in his possession, as many were duplicates that had been collected over many years.
Brierley owned 49,795 images, all but one of them were “category two” images depicting female children in clothes, swimwear or underwear in sexualized poses.
The court heard that the photos depicted girls as young as four years old and that he used the images for his own sexual satisfaction because of his lifelong sexual interest in prepubescent girls.
He also had in his possession sexually explicit stories describing the sexual abuse of children, which had been mailed to his business address by someone in the United States.
Brierley has fallen dramatically from favor since he was charged, including being forced to give up his knighthood.
The court had previously heard that Brierley had become a social pariah, including having his name removed from public buildings and schools.
According to the statement of agreed-upon facts, none of the images depicted cruelty, torture or the sexual acts of children.
There was one category one image of a naked child in a sexualized pose on a bed with their anus and genitals exposed.
His lawyer had requested that the 84-year-old not be sent to prison due to his age and declining health, noting that while he “should have known better,” he had the misguided belief that the images were not illegal.
Crown Prosecutor Sean Hughes, however, urged Judge Sarah Huggett to send a message to the community that child abuse material had real consequences for real victims.
And Judge Huggett dismissed Brierley’s claims that he was unaware the images were illegal, noting that they had been collected over a considerable period of time and that he was previously a functioning businessman.
“Not only am I convinced that a prison sentence is required, but I am convinced that nothing less than that would address the purposes of the sentencing and reflect all the cases I have referred to,” Judge Huggett said.
“In particular, the amount of material in the offender’s possession, which allowed for even significant duplication, was enormous, the many victims involved, the fact that the crime was not isolated or anomalous.
“The fact that the crime contains a category one image and documents describing the assault or abuse of two girls. And the fact that the offense was motivated by sexual interest and sexual satisfaction.”
Judge Huggett sentenced Brierley to 14 months in prison, but he will be released at the end of a seven-month non-parole period.
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