Man claims hackers planted sex images on PC

An Amanzimtoti man accused of possessing thousands of computerised child pornography images is expected to raise a technical defence - that he was a victim of a hacker who downloaded the images on to his computer without his knowledge.

Mark Rawlinson, 36, on Thursday pleaded "definitely not guilty" before Durban Regional Court Magistrate Trevor Levitt. The magistrate is sitting with an assessor, computer expert Ian Melamud, because of the "complexity of the evidence".

Rawlinson is charged with 1 159 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of allowing children under 18 to view pornography.

Initial charges against him of rape and indecent assault were withdrawn.

While Rawlinson has not fully disclosed his defence, during an earlier bail application he said his computer had been infested with viruses and he had had to have it repaired three times.

At least six people had access to his computer at any given time and there was no password.

He claimed that it was possible, while on the Internet, for a hacker to hack into a computer and secretly download images without the computer user's knowledge.

According to evidence at the bail application, the images taken from his computer apparently show children in various sexual positions. One "very, very" small child appeared to be being raped. There were also other graphic images.

Giving evidence on Thursday, investigating officer Erica Clifton Parks of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit said that in June last year she had been contacted by a colleague who informed her that she had opened a rape case. The colleague had made an arrest and had confiscated a computer hard drive.

"She gave me a box and said the computer was in it. I locked it in my office and it stayed there until it was taken to Pretoria to the technical support unit," Clifton Parks said.

The document attached to the box was handed in as a court exhibit.

It stated that the alleged rape victim had claimed that pictures had been taken of her and that there were close-up, naked pictures of other girls she knew on the computer.

The document stated that the accused had said the child pornography had resulted from a virus on his computer.

It was put to Clifton Parks by defence attorney S Garbaran that when the computer had been seized by the police, it had been unplugged and the sides had been taken off, ready for repairs.

The trial is proceeding.

sign up