Child-porn defendant claimed ignorance over illegal downloads

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 August, 2005, 12:00am
 

A Dutch company director accused of possessing more than 400 images of child pornography claimed he did not know they were illegal, the Eastern Court heard yesterday.


Justin Herbonnet, 32, said in a videotaped interview with the police on the day he was arrested that he downloaded some of the explicit images from pornographic websites, but he believed the websites only featured models aged 18 and above.


Herbonnet was arrested in May last year during Operation Stormrider that caught 15 others.He has pleaded not guilty to possession of child pornography.


In the interview played in court yesterday, Herbonnet told Senior Inspector Ip Ka-yee that he did not know the photographs still existed. 'Last year, my computer was infected with a virus and I was told to change the hard drive,' he said. The images were in the old hard drive, he claimed, left inside the computer casing.


'That hard drive hasn't been used since the middle of [2003],' Herbonnet said in the tape. He also said he thought that he had thrown the CDs away.


But Mr Ma alleged that 299 child pornography images were found on the new hard drive, while 37 were found on the old hard drive. Computer forensics expert Leung Siu-loen, who examined the computers and the CDs, also testified that the CDs were found beside the desktop computer.


It was also alleged that a substantial number of the suspect images were sent to Herbonnet through internet chat programme 'icq' by a Yam Kai-kwong, the court heard yesterday.


It was not made clear in court what their relationship was, but the tape showed Herbonnet could provide Mr Yam's telephone number.


Defence counsel Andrew Bruce challenged Senior Inspector Ip's questioning of Herbonnet's sexual preference, which he revealed to be homosexual.


But Senior Inspector Ip said she thought it was relevant to the investigation because all the pictures found were of boys.


The case, before Magistrate Winston Leung Wing-chung, continues today.


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