Ex-A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack sought help for his attraction to children: court

Ben McCormack arrives at the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney on Friday. Photo: Nick Moir
Ben McCormack arrives at the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney on Friday. Photo: Nick Moir

Former A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack previously sought treatment for his sexual attraction to children and had twice attempted to take his own life following his arrest, a court has heard. 

McCormack, 43, a self-described paedophile, appeared in court on Friday for a sentencing hearing having pleaded guilty in September to two counts of using a carriage service to transmit child pornography. 

Former A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack walks from Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court after pleading guilty to two child porn offences.

In defence submissions, his lawyer Sam Macedone told the court that McCormack had twice tried to take his life following his arrest in April, telling his family:  "It's not your mess I've created, it's mine". 

McCormack also said he found it difficult to live with the public humiliation he was suffering. 

Judge Paul Conlon told Downing Centre District Court on Friday that McCormack's case was "in a different category" to other child exploitation cases because McCormack did not possess any photos or videos and had sought treatment for his sexual attraction to children before he was arrested.

"He had been seeking that assistance for some years," Judge Conlon said.

"Am I incorrect in coming to a preliminary view that this offending must come down on the lowest end of the scale? A person has recognised the wrongness, perhaps, of what he was doing, and has actually sought treatment for it."

The court heard McCormack has been diagnosed with alcohol abuse disorder, panic disorder, severe emotional disregulation, social phobia and a depressive disorder. He lives with "public humiliation" and his reputation has been "destroyed".

McCormack's lawyer, Sam Macedone, said his client was "talking about fantasies" with the other man, and was usually intoxicated when he did so.

Judge Conlon said he had not seen anything which would dissuade him from the view that McCormack used the conversations solely to become aroused.

"It would appear that none of this has ever been acted on," Judge Conlon said. "Is it not a person talking about a fantasy?"

The judge questioned if McCormack's behaviour would be an offence at all if it was said out loud and not over the internet.

"This offence? Correct," the Crown prosecutor responded. "The fantasy explanation, we do struggle to see the relevance. The offence is complete when the words are sent."

McCormack's conversations were discovered when police targeted the man he was speaking to, and the man referred to him as "Ben" and mentioned A Current Affair.

Using the name "oz4skinboi", McCormack sent hundreds of graphic messages between April 2015 and February 2017, as well as a 30-second video of himself performing a sex act as he described watching children at the movies, the beach and shopping centres.

An agreed statement of facts tendered to the District Court in Sydney said the communications, which were exchanged between the men on Skype, "amount to child pornography".

The conversations include descriptions of what the pair would like to do to children, their preferences of children including ages and physical features, and discussion of where to access videos and photos of child pornography.

McCormack said he liked boys aged seven to 12 and was a "proud ped" who would "always have the attraction".

When asked if he wanted to touch a child sexually, McCormack responded "f--- yes".

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