Wollongong teacher gets jail for child pornography

Peter Wouters
Peter Wouters

A Wollongong girls school teacher who privately cultivated a collection of child pornography, wept into his hands and hugged his wife, telling her "I'm so sorry", as he was led to the cells on Wednesday to spend at least 12 months behind bars.

Peter Wouters taught music at St Mary Star of the Sea for seven years until police uncovered a large stock of illegal images and videos at his Figtree home in September last year.

Wouters subsequently pleaded guilty to possessing the material, and yesterday was sentenced to two years' jail, with a 12-month non-parole period.

Wollongong Local Court Magistrate Geraldine Beattie rejected submissions from Wouters' lawyers that his interest in under-age subjects was limited to teens.

"There's references to children [aged] three, four, five ... in these images," Magistrate Beattie said.

"I'm looking at the number of images ... the number of children that were as a result of that, abused."

Police searched a sample from Wouters' collection of more than 79,000 images, and catalogued 167 illegal pictures.

Of these, 15 were "category four" images - the second-most serious according to the court's system for classifying child abuse material.

There were 19 illegal videos, 14 containing category four material.

Prosecutor Jacqueline Azad said the nature of the material debunked Wouters' claim to have not thought of the pictured children as victims of exploitation.

"I won't repeat the description of the images," Ms Azad said.

"All I can say is they're very, very disturbing ... I don't see how any reasonable person wouldn't give thought to those children being exploited."

The court heard Wouters, 32, attempted to delete the images as the offence came to light.

Earlier, Wouters' solicitor Aaron Kernaghan asked the court to take into account his client's early admission of guilt, clean criminal history and good prospects - noted in a psychologist's report - for rehabilitation.

Mr Kernaghan said his client had "minced words" at times, in attributing his offending behaviour to "stress", but had ultimately admitted to a sickness and taken on all the public disdain that accompanied this.

"He has admitted he has a kind of phelia - ephebophilia. It relates to children in their mid-late teens," Mr Kernaghan said.

"It's not easy for anyone to admit to such a sickness."

Mr Kernaghan said Wouters had come to possess material featuring much younger children inadvertently, due to the method by which the material had been obtained.

With good behaviour, he will be eligible for parole on April 29, 2015.