South Australian MP Bernard Finnigan found guilty on child pornography charge

South Australian independent MP Bernard Finnigan has been found guilty of obtaining access to child pornography.

Key points:

  • Judge says Finnigan manually entered search terms into Google that mostly related to young teenagers
  • Finnigan is not expected to continue to serve in the Legislative Council; he says he will consider his position
  • Court will resume on November 30 for sentencing submissions

Finnigan was arrested at his Sefton Park home in April 2011 and charged with accessing child pornography between December 2010 and April 2011.

Finnigan’s lawyers have asked the judge not to record the conviction now, but rather for that to be decided during sentencing.

The judge agreed to defer that issue until sentencing.

The trial, which began in April this year, was heard by Judge Steven Millsteed alone.

Finnigan was also acquitted of a charge of attempting to obtain access to child pornography.

He was repeatedly heckled by the public as he left court accompanied by his legal team.

On Tuesday afternoon, Finnigan said in a statement he would carefully consider his future.

Earlier this afternoon, my lawyers wrote to the president of the Legislative Council advising him of the outcome of my trial before Judge Millsteed in the District Court.

I will take time over coming days to give careful consideration to his Honour’s judgment.

It is my intention to absent myself from further sittings of the Legislative Council pending sentencing and a decision as to whether to appeal.

In the circumstances, it is not appropriate that I make any further comment at this time.

Before Judge Millsteed delivered his verdict in front of a packed public gallery he warned onlookers that they would be removed from the court if they caused a disturbance.

Finnigan’s lawyer Michael Abbott QC was not at the hearing, but had others from his legal team in attendance.

In his 89-page judgment, Judge Millsteed said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Finnigan manually entered the searchTERMS into Google rather than it being automatically completed or produced by a “pop up” link.

He also said it was “improbable” that a person would key in such a searchTERM and not proceed with the search by clicking on at least one of the results.

Judge Millsteed said while he could not find beyond reasonable doubt that all of the searchTERMS were necessarily referable to child pornography, he was able to conclude that some of them were.

“The nature of the words he used suggest that his intention was predominatelyDIRECTED at young teenagers,” Judge Millsteed said.

“On my findings he did so with the intention of viewing child pornography.”