A WEST Australian high school teacher who hoarded almost 13,000 child exploitation images and videos has been jailed for more than two years.
Police found 11,766 photos and 951 videos on a laptop computer and two flash drives at the home of Bunbury man Darren Murray Stephens, 39, in August 2016.
District Court of WA Judge Christopher Stevenson said the material was “gross and at the high end” of seriousness, and many of the victims were malnourished and had also been physically abused.
“The offending is serious. The gravity of it cannot be doubted,” Judge Stevenson said during sentencing on Thursday.
The court heard Stephens had been suffering depression, was abusing alcohol and was not enjoying his job at the time, and he argued he only developed an interest in child exploitation material out of curiosity.
Stephens has since been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and while hoarding could be a hallmark of the condition, it was not the cause of the offending, the judge said.
“It is plain … you had a deviant sexual interest in young children,” he said.
Judge Stevenson said it was unlikely Stephens would be able to return to teaching.
“This, of course, was your passion before you fell into the hole you fell into,“ he said.
Stephens was sentenced to two years and three months behind bars, and must serve half of his term before being eligible for parole.