The self-confessed "proud pedo" Ben McCormack has escaped jail on child porn charges because his "wish list" of sex with young boys was just "fantasy".
McCormack, 43, was sentenced to a good behaviour bond for three years and fined A$1000 ($1100) this morning at the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney.
McCormack pleaded guilty to two charges of using a carriage service to transmit child pornography after Skype conversations between him and a West Australian paedophile were intercepted by police.
Judge Paul Conlon said to McCormack after the sentence was handed down: "You have never harmed anyone and accordingly I wouldn't like you to go forth and harm yourself.
"Hopefully those who supported you throughout this period will manage to convince you otherwise."
Judge Conlon said it was clear from the conversations between the two men they were talking about their shared "fantasies".
"It is a clear indication what they have been talking about is their shared fantasies."
He referred specifically to an explicit conversation following images he sent to the other man that were never recovered by police, but alluded to semen-stained underwear and Speedos.
The judge said the facts in the McCormack case was quite different to the cases of similar charges that normally came to court.
He said it was clear the worst aspects of child porn cases was "absent" in McCormack's case.
"There was no transmission of pictures or images of child pornography ... it does not include pictures of actual child victims. There was no attempt to sexually exploit children or grooming."
In his submissions, McCormack's lawyer Sam Macedone said the conversations were a fantasy and a "wish list".
The Crown said that was irrelevant.
Judge Conlon said: "The overwhelming inference I drew from the conversations was they were examples of fantasies about a group of young male persons."
He said the Crown conceded the charges couldn't have been brought in their current form if they had taken place in person and not over the internet.
As a result, he considered the charges fell at the " lower and of the scale".
Judge Conlon believed McCormack had shown "genuine contrition" and accepted personal responsibility.
He had lost his career as a journalist where he had been "well known nationally".
"It is clear his job was his life. He will never again work in media again" before adding that McCormack believed his existence had been "destroyed".
As he sentenced McCormack, Judge Conlon said a motivating factor was his previous good character as a journalist with A Current Affair — and also that he sought help to control his deviant sexual urges long before his arrest.
A psychologist who interviewed McCormack revealed he found the idea of sex with young boys "distressing" and didn't believe he posed a risk to children.
His risk of reoffending was estimated to be low.
The Crown dismissed the admissions he had made as convenient and self-serving and that they were made post arrest.
But judge Conlon believed them, saying he believed they were accurate and rather being self-serving they were "against self-interest".
He continued: "It would seem indicative of a person prepared to confront the truth necessary if one is seeking rehabilitation."
McCormack was admitted to hospital in April after a suicide attempt.
In a 17-page suicide note he detailed his anguish that included "fighting demons since he was 11 years of age" and his shame, guilt, despair and helplessness.
"He stated he couldn't live with the public humiliation."
It was revealed late last month McCormack had sought professional help for his sexual interest in young boys because of "self loathing" it caused him.
The ex-television journalist approached psychologists for help years before he was charged with child porn offences — and he was so fearful of his urges he even avoided children.
After reading McCormack's lawyer Sam Macedone's submissions, Judge Conlon said he had "sought professional assistance for what he knew was wrong" and the "self loathing" it caused for many years.
The Crown was seeking a custodial sentence for the 43-year-old but at the previous hearing Judge Conlon suggested the offences were of the lower end of the scale and the agreed facts of the case were not "typical" of the sort of child porn charges normally seen by judges.
The court heard the offending took place when McCormack was drunk and would need to satisfy his sexual urges.
"Whenever he self-medicated, that is with alcohol, that was when he was most prone to engaging in this sort of behaviour,' Judge Conlon said, reading from defence submissions.
McCormack twice tried to take his life after he was arrested in April and in a suicide note to his family he wrote he could not "bear the shame and disgrace" and his "life should be his to take away".
In another note, his lawyer Sam Macedone said McCormack wrote: "It's not your mess I've created, it's mine."
The details of the police case against McCormack where revealed in disturbing detail when he pleaded guilty to the charges in September.
The police facts — some of which was too explicit to publish — exposed the conversations between McCormack and the WA paedophile.
McCormack used the name Oz4skinboi when he spoke to the man and introduced himself by telling him he loved "small, smooth hairless" young boys.
The conversations between McCormack and the man took place between April 30, 2015 and January 1, 2017 and were discovered by sex crimes detectives who were monitoring the WA paedophile.
McCormack confessed he favoured boys as young as 7 because they had "perfect bodies" and was a "proud pedo, proud b lover".
In one message, on May 13, 2015, McCormack informed him he was "meeting up with horny dudes fri night ... U free to Skype with us? Over wot we love?"
The pair discussed what child porn material each had and what the best way to view it was.
He said: "I love boys so much."
On August 1 the two men talked about their desire for sex with underage boys. The unidentified male said: "Can't wait to have one for real ha."
McCormack answered: "They are so beautiful. I want to make love to one so badly."
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757