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Child advocates condemn court decision on child pornography case

Kelly Hunt, executive director of the Coalition for the Protection of Children (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Two children’s advocates have condemned a suspended sentence handed down in the Supreme Court to a man who admitted accessing thousands of items of child pornography.

Wong Li Shan, 43, was spared prison last week with a ten-month suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to three counts of accessing child pornography, including images, videos and written material, as far back as 2014.

Acting Puisne Judge Craig Attridge accepted Wong’s previous good character.

He also factored in Wong’s separation from his family in Singapore, although he said it did not excuse the crimes.

Kelly Hunt, the executive director of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, said last night: “Regrettably, the battle against the possession of child pornography remains an ongoing problem here in Bermuda.”

Ms Hunt said children’s rights in the digital environment were violated by “the proliferation of these explicit images”, with a “grave” long-lasting impact on victims.

She added: “Offenders should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law with all aggravating factors considered.

“The number of victims, as well as the amount of time where children have been exploited should be taken into account during sentencing.”

Ms Hunt said: “Clearer sentencing guidelines without impunity would ensure that criminals receive the necessary judgment for this damaging offence against children.”

Debbie Ray-Rivers, the executive director of the child sexual abuse prevention organisation Saving Children and Revealing Secrets, said in an opinion article today that she respected judges but was baffled at “the lack of knowledgie for some when it comes to the minds of child sex offenders”.

Ms Ray-Rivers added: “Those who are sexually attracted to children and act on that attraction commit a crime and are a risk to children.

“Laws protect our general safety and ensure our rights as citizens against abuses by other people. We have these laws to help provide for our general safety, which includes little children.”

She said lawbreakers had to be held responsible for their actions.

Ms Ray-Rivers said Wong’s admission of accessing more than 20,000 pornographic images of children was evidence of an addiction.

Noting Wong’s excuses in court, she said: “What message are we sending to other sex addicts who are attracted to little children?”

She said prison time was necessary, with “an opportunity to heal during incarceration”.

Ms Ray-Rivers added: “I sincerely hope Mr Wong is placed on a sex offenders list that is provided to every organisation around the world fighting cybercrime.

“If not, we better pray he can fix himself.”