Coad conviction stands

Auckland ISP and Linux systems integrator Bryce Coad who pleaded guilty in court to importing pornography on his notebook computer earlier this year, has failed in an appeal to be discharged from the conviction.

Auckland ISP and Linux systems integrator Bryce Coad who pleaded guilty in court to importing pornography on his notebook computer earlier this year, has failed in an appeal to be discharged from the conviction.

Coad, who was stopped at Customs on returning from Israel and found to be carrying 10,000 images on two hard drives and a notebook, said he collected them in connection with the development of filtering software.

Although he admitted his guilt he asked to be discharged on the grounds that a conviction would be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence.

Coad said he’d suffered a number of adverse effects as a result of the conviction, including being asked to resign from the committee of the New Zealand Open Source Society and being dropped as a member, being called a paedophile on a news group, and suffering deterioration in his business relationships.

Coad’s lawyer argued that there was significant public interest in the software, which is called Moderator, that Coad was developing and that the conviction was an impediment to its creation.

In a decision released on Friday, Justice O’Regan said the case was finely balanced but he decided there were no grounds to interfere with the original conviction.

He said that he didn’t accept the public interest criteria. “While I accept that the duty of an internet service provider cannot be likened to those of trustees, nevertheless I believe the [original] judge was correct to refer to a need for internet service providers to behave scrupulously.”

The judge accepted that the impact of the conviction on Coad had been significant.

“The blackening of his name by the anonymous references to him being a paedophile on the internet is unfortunate. Those statements are inconsistent with the factual findings the judge made to the effect that importation was not undertaken with the intention of any personal gratification or commercial gain.

“However, the impact of membership of organisations such as the NZOSS is a matter which is fairly within its own control. It cannot be said that the impact on the professional standing of the appellant is out of all proportion to the nature of the offence.”

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