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Man found with 'fairly profound volume' of child porn led troubled early life, court hears

The local Crown's office has never dealt with a case involving so much child porn
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The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo.
Sault Ste. Marie police discovered "a significant amount" of child pornography on a computer that was traced to Sylvio Montgomery - a volume of images and videos greater than any other amount the local Crown's office has dealt with, a judge heard Monday.

The two-month investigation found 4,429 images and 3,215 videos, prosecutor David Didiodato told the court. 

Montgomery pleaded guilty to making child pornography available - an offence that occurred between Nov. 12, 2017 and Jan. 11, 2018.

Ontario Court Justice John Condon sentenced the 26-year-old first-time offender to two years less a day - a custodial term jointly recommended by the Crown and defence.

With the credit Montgomery received for his pre-sentence custody and time spent on strict bail conditions, he faces a further 17 months behind bars.

Police were conducting a child pornography investigation on peer-to-peer file sharing networks, and located 306 files on the November date, the court heard.

The technological crime unit connected to the IP address and downloaded some of the files directly from the computer.

"All were child pornography," Didiodato said.

Officers continued to monitor the address, and on three more occasions in November found more files.

After executing a search warrant for a local residence, officers seized five devices, including a laptop, belonging to Montgomery.

Citing the need for deterrence and denunciation, Didiodato said the "fairly profound volume" of child pornography is the "primary aggravating factor" in this case.

The assistant Crown attorney said a sentence of four years was in the range for the offence, but because of the many mitigating factors, such as the guilty plea, Montgomery's age and mental health issues, the lawyers were recommending two years less a day.

Defence counsel Jessica Belisle said her client is a young Indigenous man with no criminal record, who has struggled with racism and bullying since he was a child.

He was placed in a foster care at one year of age and later was adopted.

Montgomery was targetted and victimized in elementary school because he "proudly" wore his hair long, she told Condon.

"As he grew older he became more introverted."

When he was 16, he began displaying mental health issues, was hearing voices and was hospitalized. He was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type.

Then two years ago, he was diagnosed with delusional disorder and substance-induced psychotic disorder, Belisle said.

"He experienced significant trauma in the early years of his life that continue to shadow him and impact on him," she said.

"In spite of all that, while on bail, he formed positive relationships with probation officers and appears to have made improvements." 

A letter of support from the John Howard Society bail supervision program, which he has been on since May, indicated he has not missed any of his twice weekly reporting sessions.

During his four months of custody following his arrest, Montgomery completed several programs at the jail, including a Bible study program.

"This speaks to his dedication to rehabilitation and acknowledging his issues," Belisle said. "He was not wasting time while in custody."

She told Condon that Montgomery wants to go to the Ontario Correctional Institute in Brampton, which has specific programming for sex offences.

"He wants to rehabilitate himself. He is beyond remorseful. It is not something he takes lightly."

When he imposed the sentence, Condon called the number of child pornography images "shocking." 

These images are exploitive and unimaginable, and collecting and making them available to other people is deplorable and unacceptable, he said.

Violence and abuse are associated with such images, and "there is a need for punishment for such heinous acts."

He urged Montgomery to think about the children who are victims of child pornography.

These images continue to circulate around the world-wide web, and sometimes the same people are "being victimized over and over and over," Condon said, telling him he needs to think about the harm that is done just by looking at the images.

"It's real. These are real people not Hollywood creations," the judge told him. "Real people suffered real harm."

Condon suggested Montgomery compare his own childhood to what he had done.

"In the vernacular you've had a crappy early start in life. When I look at the harm you suffered I understand. I can see the angst on your face."

Children, who are victims of child pornography, "have gone through trauma without their consent," just like you, he said.

He noted Montgomery had indicated he wants to be a better person and is sorry for he what he did.

"I believe that."

Condon asked him what was the book he was clutching throughout the proceedings. 

When Montgomery replied a Bible, the judge said "I hope that assists you."

Condon recommended that he serve his time at the Ontario Correctional Institute.

Once he completes his sentence, Montgomery will be on probation for three years with conditions limiting his use of electronic devices.

During that time, he also will be on an order prohibiting him from going to public parks and swimming areas frequented by persons under the age of 16, as well as playgrounds, schoolyards, daycare centres and community centres.

He can have no employment and can't volunteer anywhere involving those under 16.

Condon also ordered him to register as a sex offender for 10 years and to provide a DNA sample for the national database.

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About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 35 years.
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