Wollongong teacher Peter Wouters wins appeal on child porn sentence

Peter Wouters at Wollongong court in April.

Peter Wouters at Wollongong court in April.

Disgraced Wollongong teacher Peter Wouters will be a free man later this month, after his two-year prison sentence for child pornography possession was overturned on Wednesday.

The former St Mary Star of the Sea College music co-ordinator was jailed for 12 months in April by local court magistrate Geraldine Beattie after he pleaded guilty to having illegal images and videos on his home computer.

The 33-year-old immediately lodged a formal challenge to the decision.

During the appeal hearing in Wollongong District Court on Wednesday, Judge Paul Conlon set aside the sentence imposed by the local court.

Judge Conlon ordered that Wouters serve a 12-month sentence with a non-parole period of two months.

Wouters will be released to supervised parole on June 29. He has been in custody, bail refused, since April 30 awaiting the outcome of his appeal.

In handing down his judgment, Judge Conlon said Wouters, a father of two, had expressed genuine remorse for his actions and that he had excellent prospects for rehabilitation.

He said Wouters had no previous criminal record and had, in many ways, been a valuable and contributing member of society.

Character testimonials tendered to Judge Conlon had described Wouters as a ‘‘most capable and totally professional person’’ and a ‘‘family man in every sense of the word’’ who adored his own children.

The court heard that police uncovered 167 images and 19 videos of child abuse material on a computer at Wouter’s Figtree home in September last year.

Born in Belgium, Wouters initially worked at the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music and various schools as a casual teacher, including his stint at St Mary’s College.

Wouters told a psychologist that he had viewed the images to help him escape from stresses in his life, including the death of his grandmother in 2013.

As a consequence of his actions, he had lost his employment and faced an uncertain future.

The court heard he felt acutely embarrassed and was more concerned about the effects on his wife and children.

Speaking outside the court, Wouter’s solicitor James Howell said the court’s decision reaffirmed his client’s concerted efforts made in confronting his issues and seeking treatment.

‘‘The court noted that it is the fact of imprisonment, not the length of imprisonment, which would impact on a person without a criminal record in terms of punishment for the offence,’’ Mr Howell said.

‘‘My client is eagerly awaiting his release from custody so that he may continue his treatment and reconnect with his family.’’

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop