Businessman and former NSW police officer Andrew Edward Blair was sentenced to 12 months on probation for possessing child exploitation material. Picture: File.
Businessman and former NSW police officer Andrew Edward Blair was sentenced to 12 months on probation for possessing child exploitation material. Picture: File.

Ex-cop found with child porn, MDMA escapes jail time

A former police officer and Coast businessman who was found with naked photos of underage girls has avoided prison.

Andrew Edward Blair avoided having a conviction recorded against him on Thursday when he was sentenced to 12 months probation for possessing child exploitation material.

Crown prosecutor William Slack told Maroochydore District Court police found 15 photos of girls on Blair's phone and two tablets when they raided his Mountain Creek property on May 6, 2018.

Blair, 45, was also found with one tablet of MDMA and capsicum spray which was the property of the NSW police force.

Judge Glen Cash said the photos were arranged in four folders across the devices.

"One folder contained two images of a young girl about 10 to 12 she was naked on the bed there appeared to be ejaculate on her stomach, one image showed her chest and torso the other her genitalia could also be seen," he said.

"A third folder contained three images that were child exploitation material, but two were identical so one of the unique images depicted a 12 to 13-year-old girl with her shirt open revealing her bra and the other unique image was … of two girls sitting naked exposing their genitals.

"One of the girls seems to be about 12 to 13 the other about eight to 10 years of age."

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Mr Cash said the second folder contained a number of images of a less serious category whereas the fourth folder included a photo of a seven to nine-year-old girl lifting up her top and revealing her crop top.

Mr Slack said some of the photos were transmitted through Snapchat.

"It's indicating that … they have involved someone taking Snapchat I guess screenshot of a child," he said.

Mr Blair pleaded guilty to possessing dangerous drugs and the unlawful possession of a weapon.

He had already entered his plea of guilty for possessing the child exploitation material.

Mr Slack suggested a period of three to six months in prison would be an appropriate sentence.

He said a conviction should be recorded.

"The offence of possessing child exploitation material is not a victimless crime, the supporting of an industry with respect to child exploitation material which takes advantage of vulnerable children has been regarded more seriously by the community and the parliament in recent years," he said.

"The recording of a conviction will importantly act as a deterrent to others from possessing this type of image in the future.

"Although it is probably at the lowest end of the scale for this type of offending … the possession of child exploitation material is still extremely serious and in the Crown's submission it is feeding of the market of some form of sexual exploitation of children."

Defence barrister Jeff Hunter said Blair was unable to provide an explanation as to how the images came to be on his phone.

He said the offending was at the bottom end of the range of seriousness for the charge.

"It's accepted that this involved actual children but the content was not violent or cruel or sadistic … there was no discernible physical harm to any of the children and probably the most important feature is the very small number of images that are involved," he said.

"There is no suggestion of dissemination of them, there is no suggestion he paid for them, there is no evidence that would suggest that he was somehow in close proximately to the person that produced the images and apart from the matters that your honour has touched on there is no sophistication associated."

He said Blair, who was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and depression after leaving the NSW police force in 2010, had significantly suffered from serious allegations related to his offending and wide media coverage.

Mr Hunter asked Mr Cash not to record a conviction.

He said a conviction would hinder Mr Blair's ability to run his caravan business.

"The potential is this could be catastrophic and it wouldn't be catastrophic just for him, it would be catastrophic for his employees and the community generally because the wages that he pays these people, the tax that he pays and the contribution he makes to other businesses by utilising their services," he said.

The court heard Blair's annual income was just over $709,000 and he had used various Coast trades over the past 12 months to the cost of $150,000.

"He is a person that the community needs to keep in business," Mr Hunter said.

Mr Hunter said "shocking allegations" relating to Blair's offending were widely published and never confirmed.

"He has been put to substantial expense and retracted existence with these shocking allegations hanging over his head, so that's why I say he has been punished … quite significantly," he said.

Mr Hunter said the allegations also meant Blair has not been allowed to see his children since 2016.

Given Blair's low risk of reoffending, Mr Hunter suggested a period of nine to 12 months on probation as an appropriate punishment.

Mr Cash said Blair's two days of pre-sentence custody, his lack of criminal history, his positive contribution to the community, his strict bail conditions and the degree of public shaming related to the serious allegations influenced his sentence.

"I accept that you living with these allegations, which have ultimately been withdrawn, has been a particular burden upon you and I think that is something that is relevant in deciding the extent to which there is a need to punish you today," he said.

"There are exceptional circumstances in your case such that it is unnecessary to impose a sentence that will involve you going actually to jail today."

He said there was no suggestion that Blair's post traumatic stress disorder and depression contributed to or explained his possession of the material.

He sentenced Blair to 12 months on probation and did not record a conviction.

Blair was not further punished for possessing dangerous drugs and a weapon.