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3 minute read
20 Feb 2017
4:33 pm

Plett engineer pleads guilty to over 18 000 child porn charges

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The man was arrested at his seaside home in 2015 following an international police operation called Cloud Nine.

Photo: Supplied

Child rights activists are hoping for a lengthy prison term for a Plettenberg Bay computer engineer accused of having links to a horrific international baby pornography network.

The 38-year-old man, William Beale, pleaded guilty to more than 18 000 charges of possession and distribution of child pornography in the Knysna Regional Court on Monday.

Beale has entered into a plea bargain with the state which saw him plead guilty to 18 644 child pornography charges and a single charge of possession of dagga.

He was arrested at his seaside home on January 13, 2015 in an international police operation called Cloud Nine. His involvement in the paedophile network was first picked up by Belgian police. He was the first of hundreds of suspects to be arrested both in South Africa and abroad.

Paedophiles with a fetish for the sexual abuse of babies had a cyber meeting place where they could view images that included the torture and murder of newborn babies.

When Beale was arrested, police found sections of files containing thousands of videos and violent assaults as well as the internet addresses of more than 300 alleged paedophiles.

During court proceedings over the past two years the state alleged that there were more than 179 000 images in question.

Woman and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA) founding director Miranda Friedman, who attended proceedings on Monday, said that his arrest was followed by a lengthy joint investigation by the commander of the Gauteng-based Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit Heila Niemand and Sergeant Delene Grobler-Koon after a tip off from Belgian police.

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“We hope that the sentence will be a very serious one,” Friedman said.

She added that she was encourged by the Johannesburg High Court last week sentencing East Rand car salesman Warren Troy Knoop to 32 life sentences for rape and the possession of child pornography.

His victims included three young girls. Over and above the life sentences Knoop was also sentenced to 170 years behind bars for 870 charges of rape and possession of child pornography. The sentences will run concurrently with the life terms.

“Every image of child pornography is a child being sexually violated and we want the sentence to reflect the horrific crime that is child sexual abuse.”

WMACA Western Cape spokesperson Joanne Barrett said it was due to international cooperation that the arrests of perpetrators of cyber crimes could result in successful prosecutions and convictions.

Spokesperson for local anti-child abuse group the Green Hearts, Magriet Ferreira, said that the team was pleased that the matter would be finalised soon.

“We would like to salute the prosecutor and her team for their dedication in handling this case. We believe that he will receive an appropriate sentence,” Ferreira said.

She added that the group felt that there was no difference between possessing child pornography and being actively involved in molesting a child: “In both cases there are children who are victims of these despicable deeds.”

The case against Beale was postponed to April 18 for sentencing.

– African News Agency 

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