Doug Bowers outside Surrey Provincial Court Thursday

Court considers child-porn evidence found in South Surrey home

Sexual-abuse stories and explicit photographs admitted at sentencing hearing of Douglas Bowers.

Ten printed photographs and eight pages of child sexual-abuse stories were among items police seized three years ago from the home of Douglas Wayne Bowers, Surrey Provincial Court Judge Michael Hicks heard Thursday.

Hicks is presiding over a sentencing hearing for Bowers, a South Surrey man who has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

Following his initial guilty plea in December 2010, Bowers had told Peace Arch News he knew there was illegal material on his computer, but that it had been inadvertently downloaded while he was visiting adult-pornography websites.

(The proceedings stalled last fall, when Bowers disputed an expert’s report, and again in March, when Bowers applied to withdraw his guilty plea. He then withdrew that application five weeks later, and the process leading to last week’s hearing began anew.)

During a break in proceedings Thursday, defence lawyer Robert Doran explained that the details of what Bowers has pleaded guilty to are the reason for the sentencing hearing.

“There’s a disagreement on particulars regarding what he’s pleading guilty to,” Doran said.

During testimony, Const. Virginie Achtymichuk, a former member of the RCMP Integrated Child Exploitation Unit (ICE), told Hicks the 10 images were found in the master bedroom of a house in the 16200-block of 40 Avenue during a June 24, 2009 search. The stories were found in the home’s upstairs living room.

Following a break, during which Doran and Bowers examined the photos, Doran told Hicks the defence was “willing to make an admission that Mr. Bowers was in possession of those items, which should become part of the facts to which he pled guilty.”

At the same time, Doran submitted that “only one or two (of the images) could be depicted as pornographic… maybe four.”

“Some photos in that packet are of a girl in a bikini,” he said.

At the start of the hearing, prosecutor Keith Kinash listed 11 witnesses whom he planned to call to give evidence. The list included a young woman who was younger than 16 years old at the time of the offence. Hicks ordered a ban on the publication of any information that could identify her.

Bowers was charged in September 2009 with possessing and accessing child pornography, after an ICE investigation that began in October 2008 led police to a man they described as a “prolific distributor of child sexual abuse images and video online.” A B.C. victim was identified.

Hicks heard Thursday that the bedroom searched three years ago was Bowers’, and that the house was shared with at least two other men: one who rented a bedroom on the same floor, and one who rented the basement suite. A third man stayed for a time in a third, upstairs bedroom.

Hicks also heard that other items seized from the home included laptop computers, digital memory cards and miscellaneous documents.

Others who gave evidence last week included two of the men who lived at the home at the time of the search.

Joseph Pasloski testified he had used Bowers’ laptop for Google searches and emailing in the month or so before he brought his own computer down from his former residence in the Okanagan. He and Bowers would also search together for information on various actors they saw in movies, he said.

Asked if he had downloaded or watched child pornography on either computer, Pasloski said no. He also told Hicks that he never saw Bowers searching for pornography online.

Richard Krochter, who rented the home’s basement from Bowers, told Hicks he never used Bowers’ computer or the Internet. He had agreed, at Bowers’ request, to contract Internet and cable service, as Bowers was covering the cost of utilities, he said.

Krochter said Bowers “didn’t want anybody touching his computer,” and that whenever Krochter went upstairs to give Bowers rent money, Bowers would “immediately shut down the front of his computer.”

He confirmed that a door separating the suites was not kept locked.

The hearing, scheduled for three days, was delayed Friday after Bowers advised Doran that he was in hospital for blood-pressure concerns.

Doran told Hicks that Bowers’ blood pressure was measured at “probably near heart attack or stroke levels” that morning, and that Bowers had reported he was waiting further testing.

Bowers was still incapacitated Friday afternoon. Hicks adjourned the hearing until Wednesday, ordering the defence to submit independent proof that the delay was necessary. Bowers had previously been ordered to attend all court dates in person, after failing to show at one of his appearances.

Bowers is facing a sentence of at least 45 days in jail for the charge. Neither Doran nor Kinash would comment on what they would be suggesting for a sentence.

 

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