ANDREW DARBY August 01, 2012
Socially isolated ... Andy Muirhead outside the Supreme Court yesterday. Photo: Peter Mathew
ANDY MUIRHEAD sat in the dock with his chin up throughout the child pornography case against him - except when the Tasmanian Chief Justice, Ewan Crawford, ordered that some of the images be shown.
As AFP officers ran through pictures and video depicting five levels of pornography involved, from low-level provocative pose to high-level sadism, the former host of ABC TV's Collectors bowed his head and kept his eyes down.
''The things that I saw on my computer were vile and disgusting,'' Mr Muirhead, 36, said in a letter to the court yesterday.
''The people depicted in those images were real people with the right to safe and happy lives.
''I can't imagine how much hurt has been caused to the people depicted in those images, through no fault of their own. I acknowledge that, in viewing such images, I contributed to their hurt and suffering.''
At his house in Hobart over a 14-month period from early 2009, Mr Muirhead admitted using peer-to-peer file sharing programs to download 12,409 images and 24 videos of child pornography.
They were recovered from his hard drive after attempts to delete them, the court heard. A further 876 child pornography files were found on his computer when it was seized by police and he was arrested in June 2010.
Prosecutor Maitland Lincoln said it was estimated 2173 children, as young as three years old, were depicted in the images. About 11,000 of the images were at the lowest level of harm, but more than 500 involved penetrative sex or sadism, the court heard.
Mr Muirhead pleaded guilty to two charges of using the internet for child pornography, and one of possessing child pornography.
His partner, parents and three siblings watched in court as Mr Muirhead's lawyer Kim Baumeler said that her client had suffered public punishment because of his conduct.
His $150,000 contracts for Collectors and local ABC Radio lapsed at the end of 2010 and Ms Baumeler said it was highly unlikely he would ever be employed in the industry again.
She said his offending began in 2009 around the time that a significant relationship ceased and work pressures made him socially isolated. A psychologist's report said Mr Muirhead showed no psychiatric illness, including paedophilia.
''I have explained to those close to me what was going on in my life at the time that I committed these crimes,'' Mr Muirhead said in his letter. ''What I did was shameful, reckless and stupid.''
Ms Baumeler's plea was against jailing Mr Muirhead. Justice Crawford remanded him in custody while he decided whether to take evidence from a psychologist or proceed with sentencing.