13 Jul 2016

Jailed ex-teacher likened child abuse images to stamp collecting

5:34 pm on 13 July 2016

An unemployed former Taranaki teacher jailed for four-and-a-half years on child pornography charges likened his offending to stamp collecting.

Donald Mathew Capon at New Plymouth District Court on 13 July 2016

Donald Mathew Capon Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Donald Mathew Capon appeared for sentencing in the New Plymouth District Court today.

In his pre-sentence report, Capon, 50, said he used the images for sexual gratification and compared his actions to stamp or pen collecting.

The offending spanned 15 years and was uncovered following a tip-off from the FBI.

US authorities noticed Capon's activity on a Canada-based website called "pedo" in November 2015.

Under user names "ora" and "mek" Capon uploaded images and posted links to other material featuring child abuse.

New Zealand Customs officers searched his home in February and discovered 382,025 images and 17,127 videos depicting children, some of whom were engaged in sexual acts.

Capon told the officials they would find child pornography and admitted he had a number of online identities and knew of the website in Canada, and another in Slovakia.

He said that he had had an addiction to child pornography since 2002.

In addition to images found on his personal computer, the officials found four hard drives and eight discs in his bedroom with child exploitation images on them.

'Compulsive'

Crown prosecutor Cherie Clarke said the premeditated nature of Capon's offending was an aggravating factor.

"That relates to the sheer volume of images downloaded, but also the fact that this offending has spanned some 15 years commencing in about 2001."

Another aggravating factor was the impact of offending of this nature on the victims, she said.

"Fuelling the demand for this type of material encourages sexual exploitation of children and that's worldwide, not just in New Zealand.

"The psychological effect of offending of this type has catastrophic effects, in essence, on children."

Ms Clarke said the files recovered from Capon's computer were in the worst category.

She asked for a jail term of five years and three months and that a non-parole period of half the sentence be imposed.

Defence counsel Susan Hughes QC disputed the length of Capon's offending but not the offending itself.

She said the arrest had taken a weight off his shoulders.

"Mr Capon was isolated, lonely and found himself effectively collecting such images in a manner which was compulsive.

"In short he felt unable to control the urge he felt.

"Mr Capon has felt a sense of relief in these crimes being revealed as it has given him an opportunity to cease further collection and given him an opportunity to address the issue he has."

Ms Hughes said Capon was remorseful and had engaged in counselling at his own expense.

"He is acutely aware of the hardship his incarceration will cause his elderly parents, who are with him in court today.

"He feels nothing but shame both for the crimes he's committed and the damage to his family's name and indeed the compromise to what will be the last years of his parents' lives because he is not here to help them."

Ms Hughes said a jail term of four years was appropriate.

Judge's decision

Judge Chris Sygrove said Capon had been assessed as having a high risk of offending again in a similar fashion but was a low risk of becoming a direct offender.

He said in all other respects Capon was an upstanding member of society who had no previous convictions and committed the offending in the privacy of his own home.

Judge Sygrove imposed the four-and-a-half year jail term with no non-parole period.

"Mr Capon, hopefully that will be the end of this type of offending by you and you can get proper counselling to assist you so that you never appear before this court again.

"When you are released from prison hopefully your parents will be alive to see you and you can recover with them."

On his release, Capon will have strict conditions applied to him in relation to contact with minors, photography and his ability to connect to the internet.

He will also be required to undertake child sex offending and substance abuse assessments, and take part in any treatment recommended for him.