Web chat about rape ends in charges

A MAN has admitted to distributing child exploitation material after fantasising about raping a young boy during an intimate internet chat.

Ipswich District Court heard Christopher Michael McClelland, 45, was charged after a conversation he had with another man on an internet chat site was reported to police.

Although the details of the conversation were not read out in court, Crown Prosecutor Sarah Farnden said McClelland used the dating website to recount a fictitious story of an occasion where he raped a young boy.

Police conducted extensive investigations to ensure McClelland's account didn't relate to actual events.

During a subsequent interview, McClelland told police that the story was purely make believe and for the purpose of sexual gratification.

"It seems it was a conversation that was based on pure fantasy," Ms Farnden said.

Defence lawyer Matthew Fairclough said his client was a divorcee with three children who he did not have regular access to.

The court heard McClelland had lost his job as a groundsman due to stress fractures in his back, and lived alone.

"He is, understandably, extremely embarrassed by his actions and still feels a great deal of remorse," Mr Fairclough said.

"When this was occurring, he was not aware of the full gravity of the situation."

In sentencing, Judge Sarah Bradley expressed her disbelief that a man with children could take part in such a conversation.

"The whole point of the legislation is to protect children from harm, and it is clear that this was pure fantasy and no child was harmed," Judge Bradley said.

"However, the contents of the conversation are very disturbing."

McClelland pleaded guilty to one count of making child exploitation material and one of distributing child exploitation material.

He was placed on a 12-month probation order.



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