Court allows legal admission to child pornography offender

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Child pornography offences don’t hinder the ability to become a lawyer in Queensland, according to a recently released judgement.

Justices Margaret McMurdo, Phillip Morrison and Martin Burns in the Queensland Court of Appeal determined in the Queensland Court of Appeal determined that the applicant was a fit and proper person to be admitted in light of numerous criminal convictions disclosed, following the completion of all practical and academic training requirements.

“What must be determined is whether the conduct underlying a conviction, together with any explanation for it, tells against and applicant’s ability to practise as a lawyer,” the judgement said.

“Convictions for, or arising out of, child pornography offences are not prima facie evidence that a person is not a fit and proper person to remain on the roll kept by this court.”

The 24-year-old applicant was convicted of criminal offences just 10 days after he turned 17, when a police investigation targeting internet file sharing websites found him guilty of transmitting child exploitation material.

“The offences overall were concerned with a relatively small number of images and movie files compared to the number usually encountered in offending of this nature,” the judgement said, adding that the files had been accessed but not saved by the applicant.

The court determined that circumstances relating to the applicant’s offences could be considered in order to state him a fit and proper person to be admitted.  The judges ruled that the applicant’s psychotherapeutic rehabilitation following his conviction resolved his initial diagnosis of depression.

The judges noted that admitting an applicant on the child protection register might negatively affect the public perception of the legal profession, members of the public to not have access to the register.  The applicant will remain on the child protection register for a further 16 months from the date of the hearing.