Disgraced multimillionaire Ron Brierley trades his Sydney mansion for a jail cell after being jailed for possession of child pornography.
The downfall of the former high-level corporate raider is over after he has already been stripped of his knighthood and his name has been erased from the many organizations he has helped.
The 84-year-old was taken into police custody on Thursday after Judge Sarah Huggett jailed him for at least seven months.
His lawyer subsequently filed a notice of intention to appeal the conviction.
Brierley, who admitted to having a long-standing obsession with young girls, was arrested in December 2019 at Sydney Airport on his way to fly to Fiji.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of child pornography found on devices in his luggage at the airport and at his home in Point Piper, near Sydney Harbor.
Brierley once chaired one of Australia’s most valuable public companies, was a board member of the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust and was knighted in 1988 in his native New Zealand.
The NSW District Court judge said jail was required, dismissing a defense claim that a community sanction would be appropriate.
Concluding a community correction order would be “manifestly inadequate”, she jailed him for 14 months with a seven-month non-parole period.
This will expire on May 13, 2022.
Brierley owned more than 40,000 images, many of which were duplicates, of prepubescent girls in swimsuits, underwear or other clothing, in sexually suggestive poses.
He also had two sexually explicit stories involving child victims and an image of a naked girl posing on a bed.
While the images were far from the most serious examples of child pornography, the judge said they gave her sexual gratification.
She noted the large number of images, the many victims involved, the long-term possession of the material and its motivation being the sexual interest in the girls.
She rejected his claim that he never knew the footage was against the law and “had been approved by various bodies.”
“For decades he had been a smart, successful businessman,” the judge said.
The multimillionaire, who downloaded the images from publicly accessible websites, had described his interest as “very sweet pornography.”
After his arrest, he said he owned the pictures “because they looked interesting” and that he had viewed some of them the day before “for recreation”.
“The fact remains that the offender was in possession of child abuse material due to his long-standing obsession with young girls and that material offered sexual gratification.”
She called her disgrace “radical”.
The very successful businessman previously had good character and had made a significant contribution to charities and other community works.
He rose to prominence in the 1970s with his eponymous company Brierley Investments Ltd which started out with little capital but grew into an Australian-New Zealand conglomerate with investments in companies around the world.
“I acknowledge that he has shown that he is contrite and remorseful and that he has accepted his responsibility and acknowledged the harm caused by his offense,” said Justice Huggett.
She took into account her advanced age and medical conditions, including heart problems and dementia.
Brierley, who owned a large collection of many items including newspaper clippings and stamps, had been diagnosed by a medical expert as suffering from a hoarding disorder.
But the judge found that was not a mitigating factor for his possession of the large number of images.
And although she also accepted that he suffered from a pedophile disorder that explained his behavior, he had done nothing to address the problem in the long term.
Since his arrest, he had undergone medical treatment and now declared “I am disgusted by all this, I would not want to go back again”.
Australian Associated Press