Judge gives pornographer suspended sentence, cites remorse

CAPE TOWN - A civil engineer who lured young children to the Durbanville farm where he lived, for the purposes of taking pornographic photographs of them, and making pornographic videos involving them, was given an eight-year suspended prison sentence on Monday.

Andries Petrus Retief, 37, appeared in the Sexual Offences Court in Parow, before magistrate Amanda van Leeft.

The magistrate agreed with prosecutor Herculine Swart, and defence attorney Leon van der Merwe, that the circumstances of the case justified the sentence being conditionally suspended for five years.

He was a first-time offender, and pleaded guilty to 2,130 counts involving the manufacture and possession of child pornography.

The charge sheet tells how Retief was “found out” when a family friend, who may not be named, looked after the farm where Retief lived with his wife and family, whilst they were away.

Retief gave the friend his internet password and allowed his friend to access the internet via Retief&39;s laptop.

The charge sheet details how the friend found pornographic photographs and videos on the laptop, featuring the friend’s own young children, and the young children of other couples known to the friend.

The friend informed one of the couples of his discovery, and this led to Retief’s arrest and the confiscation of the laptop and software for forensic analysis.

The magistrate said Retief’s arrest led to his realisation that he had serious emotional problems, and that he was in urgent need of prolonged psychotherapy.

She said he had immediately submitted himself for therapy, and that the treatment was still in progress.

She said the constitution regarded the interests of young children as of paramount importance, and legislation stipulated a minimum sentence of 10 years for each offence involving young children unless there were substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a less severe sentence.

She said the fact that he had immediately submitted himself for ongoing treatment was an indication of remorse and had saved him from the minimum sentence.

Retief’s attraction to child pornography amounted to an addiction, she said.

All 2,130 counts were treated as one for the purposes of sentence, and he was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.