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Johannesburg - Richard De Vries, a 57-year-old Joburg man, has been found guilty of 107 counts of creating and dealing in child pornography.

“It is my view that the accused should be found guilty of all the counts with which he's charged,” Judge Colin Lamont said on Thursday, reading from his prepared judgment.

Lamont delivered his ruling at the High Court in Joburg, where De Vries had been on trial for the past seven years. 

The Judge found that evidence deposed by De Vries was implausible. Lamont described his arguments as complete fabrication.  

In addition to copius child porn found in his computers, he failed to explain payments to him and envelopes with names of clients found in his house. 

Read more: Joburg man on trial for peddling child porn

Prosecutor Marie Papachristoforou argued over the years that De Vries was responsible for stacks of child pornography police found in his computers and other devices during a raid in March 2010.

Lamont ruled that Papachristoforou has proved beyond reasonable doubt that De Vries unlawfully possessed child pornography, created and sold it to local and international clients. 

De Vries had been involved “in peddling of child pornography for several years and as early as 1998”, the state’s prosecuting team said. 

He was found in possession of almost 300 000 child pornographic material including films, photos, cartoons and short sexual stories.

Operating his business from his home, De Vries advertised child pornography on the Internet under guise. 

Potential clients opened the adverts while thinking they were about music, science or geography. 

During arguments, Papachristoforou told the court this meant De Vries could use anonymity and avoid any legal repercussions.

But his luck ran out in April 2009, when he sold child pornography to an undercover agent attached to the United States Postal Inspection Service.

He imported the DVDs to the agent, who testified from the US via Google Hangout, inadvertently availing the evidence the Americans needed to nail him.

Johan Claasen, senior criminal investigator at the US embassy in Pretoria, told court during trial that they wanted De Vries extradited.

The extradition was averted by the National Prosecuting Authority’s move to charge and prosecute him in Johannesburg.

US authorities established that some of the children in the film and photos had been missing in parts of the world. 

This conviction will come as little solace to victim of child pornography in this case, as many of them are unidentified. This was the view of activists who attended court.

“Justice has been done now. But justice has not been done to the kids out there, the unidentified victims of child abuse, rape and even torture,” said Rees Mann, executive director of the SA Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse.  

“They are going to be living with this trauma for the rest of their lives. Every single one of these images out there is evidence of a crime that has been committed against a child. 

“Whatever his sentence is, each one of these victims have a life-long sentence.” 

“Child pornography, we must remember, is actually sexual abuse images. They are recordings of crime scenes," Miranda Jordan Friedman, founder of Women & Men Against Child Abuse, told The Star.

“They are not just a picture that one may see in a magazine. These are children forced into situations where they are raped and violated.”

Sentencing proceedings against De Vries will kick off on Friday.

@BonganiNkosi87 


The Star