Man who triggered mass search sentenced over child porn

A MAN who prompted a large land and air search after disappearing from his Bentley Park home for four days has been sentenced for child pornography possession.

Bevan James Lee, 54, was found with three pictures on his phone of young girls when police raided his home in February last year.

The Cairns District Court heard on Monday that, one of the girls depicted in the illicit images may have been as young as eight and was involved in a sex act.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of the married ­father of three in May after he vanished from his home and breached his bail.

An image released by police after Bevan Lee’s disappearance in May. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
An image released by police after Bevan Lee’s disappearance in May. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

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Police co-ordinated a major search for the former cabinet maker and supermarket worker, involving both SES volunteers and the Rescue 510 helicopter. He was located four days later.

The court heard he entered a guilty plea to possession of child exploitation material a few days later in June.

Crown prosecutor Jodie Crane told the court the images were downloaded in October 2018 and found on his phone by police four months later.

She said while there were only three, the image of the youngest child was particularly serious.

"This is not a victimless crime and deterrence is particularly relevant," she said, while asking for a suspended jail sentence.

The Rescue 510 chopper circling over Bentley Park bushland during the search for Bevan Lee. Picture: JENNIFER SPILSBURY
The Rescue 510 chopper circling over Bentley Park bushland during the search for Bevan Lee. Picture: JENNIFER SPILSBURY

Representing himself, Lee said he was "very remorseful" for his actions.

"I don't recall seeing the worst (picture) but that does not excuse it," he said.

"I could put it down to my mental health problems, et cetera et cetera, but that does not excuse me having these images on my phone.

"I'm trying to turn my life around."

Lee said he had sought psychological help.

The court heard he had also lost his job at a supermarket due to being charged.

Judge Dean Morzone handed him a fully suspended six-month jail sentence and said it was clear he had sought support and learned from the incident.

"You recognise you caused your wife and family undue stress, drawing them into a life which you now recognise is criminal," he said. "(The court) must act to protect the victims and other members of the community who remain vulnerable as children."

Originally published as Man who triggered mass search sentenced over child porn

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