Warning: This story contains graphic details
A longtime volunteer firefighter who retired from the Colwood Fire Department in 2012 has been sentenced to one year in prison after he pled guilty to possessing more than 1,000 electronic images of child pornography, which he collected over a period of two decades.
In a sentencing decision released Monday, Judge Ted Gouge sentenced 69-year-old George Wright to one year in prison, plus three years probation, after Wright admitted to downloading the illegal images between 1997 and 2020.
The court was told the images Wright collected showed children from ages three to 12, and included a range of sexual acts, including intercourse between children and adults.
Wright’s lawyer told the court that he understood owning such photos was illegal, but did not understand the harm it caused victims until a friend explained how accessing child pornography increased demand and supported the people making it – at which point he says he stopped downloading such pictures.
“It is to be noted that the conversation did not impel Mr. Wright to destroy the images in his possession, which were seized from him by the police when he was arrested,” wrote Gouge.
Gouge’s sentencing decision was partly informed by Wright’s mental health, which was “difficult to assess.”
Wright told the court that he has never had sex, nor ever had a girlfriend or any “significant intimate relationship.”
He said that he was not particularly aroused by the images of child pornography, and that he was curious about them, saying things like “how far are they going to take this …”, and “…are they going to kill this kid …?” adding, “… I wanted to track how bad had it got …”.
A psychologist that interviewed Wright for the court assessed him as a “low to moderate” risk to reoffend, saying that he did not respond with the usual shock or concern that someone would likely express if they saw such images, but that he also seemed “emotionally detached.”
The Crown sought a six-month prison sentence for Wright, followed by two years of probation, while the defence called for a conditional sentence order, followed by probation.
Gouge says the typical sentence for a first offense of possession of child pornography is six to 15 months in prison.
The judge wrote that the volume and severity of Wright’s collection warranted a one year sentence and three years of probation, going beyond the Crown’s submission.
Wright will also be on the Sexual Offender Information Registration Act for 10 years, and must follow a range of conditions during his three years of probation, including not possessing a device that’s able to access the internet – except with written permission from a probation officer – and not possessing any device capable of storing images without permission from a probation officer.
He must also attend counseling and treatment if ordered, and take any medications prescribed to him.