A 58-year-old Salmon Arm man charged with one count of possessing child pornography was sentenced Tuesday in BC Provincial Court.
Gordon Martens will serve the mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days for the crime, in his case to be served on weekends in the Salmon Arm RCMP lock-up.
He will be on 18 months’ probation and will be included in the National Sex Offender Registry.
Martens was arrested in Salmon Arm on Dec. 5, 2013 for the possession of child pornography between July 18 and Dec. 5. Police seized both his laptop and desktop computers.
His arrest came about as the result of an investigation by the B.C. Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) team.
On the two computers seized, police found 276 still images and 15 videos. The stills included girls four to 12 years old posing nude or partially nude, while the videos showed girls from three years and up posing for the webcam and being sexually assaulted in various ways by adult males.
Crown Counsel Mariane Armstrong had requested a sentence in the range of three to six months in custody, while defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen told the court that, if there was not a mandatory minimum sentence, he would have been asking for no jail time or a sentence to be served in the accused’s own home.
Outlining Martens’ arrest, Armstrong told the court that he had told police: “In the real world, thinking about it made me ill. In the computer world, it’s so easy to find it. I’m not that monster with anybody, only with myself.”
He declared he had never fantasized about abusing children in the real world.
The court heard that after Martens had started looking at child porn he had tried stopping. Armstrong said he made reference to the compulsive nature of it.
“Like eating peanuts, you know, you eat one and you want some more,” she quoted.
Armstrong listed factors mitigating the crimes.
“Mr. Martens did actually acknowledge that by watching it you are in a way supporting it.”
She said he was dealing with health issues, including a growth on his pituitary gland and a black-out episode. A family member had also recently died from cancer, all of which caused him to withdraw from people.
She said Martens had sought counselling from his church pastor, and a psychiatric assessment determined he was at low risk of reoffending.
However, she emphasized that perpetuating pornography is a serious victimization of children. She noted one of the videos contained “lengthy abuse of a child that went on and on and on.”
Overall, Armstrong said: “I think Mr. Martens comes in the low end of the (sentencing) range because of ongoing health problems, specific health problems at the time and his recognition of the harm caused by child pornography.”
Verdurmen said Martens has not been in trouble with the law before and has been a contributing member of society as a retired businessperson.
“He was not himself; he was in fact a stranger to himself,” Verdurmen said, noting that Martens feels much different since surgery on his pituitary gland.
Verdurmen also said Martens pleaded guilty relatively quickly – in June – following his arrest.
Before rendering his decision, Judge Brad Chapman asked Martens, a tall, thin man with grey hair and gold-rimmed glasses, if he had anything to say. Martens said no.
Chapman referred to several mitigating factors including Martens’ willingness to take counselling but also aggravating factors such as the damage caused.
“It’s important to me to communicate not only to Mr. Martens, but essentially to society in general of the significance of the revictimization of the individuals that are depicted in these type of images,” he said, referring to a victim who testified in one case how hurtful it still is as an adult to know people are watching a video from years earlier.
“That’s not lost on me and I don’t think it’s lost on Mr. Martens…,” the judge stated. “Without customers, like Mr. Martens, there’s no demand…”