Modern Day Witch Hunt
This is an account of real life events. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are real, but some of the names are changed or avoided to protect the innocent, and those guilty of misuse or abuse of their office.
Early in the afternoon on a week day in late July 2015 Ed was seated at his computer when there’s a loud banging on his front door. When he opened the door he’s confronted by a group of several polices officers. One, in plain clothes, flashed an ID and half mumbled his name. The cop’s voice was much clearer when he got to the part about exercising a search warrant on the premises. The warrant authorised them to take:
- Personal or laptop computers,
- Peripheral devices,
- Mobile telephones, SIM cards, computer hard drives and equipment, faxes or any other electronic storage medium,
- Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs), film, film negative, floppy discs, Compact Discs (CDs), magazines, books, thumb drives, USB drives, flash cards, memory cards, memory sticks and any related container pertaining to these items,
- Video and still cameras, whether film or digital and accessories; and video tapes.
They’re seeking material relating to:
Possessing, producing, supplying, or obtaining child pornographic material.
After a few preliminaries the lead police proceeded to search the house. It’s an interesting circus. The lead detective was a large man who directed a second officer in the search, while a third kept a record of anything they took and put in an evidence bag, a fourth recorded all they did with a camera, while a fifth watched to see they didn’t break the relevant police protocols. There were a few other police officers around seeing no one interfered with things, but the five person search crew were very active.
In a way it’s funny, Ed’s bedroom, where they started the search, is five metres long by three and a half metres wide. The door is at one end of the five metre wall with a cupboard on the right, and the bed behind that. Opposite the door is another cupboard, with two long benches beside it. There are no built in cupboards in the room. The result is the only open space is an ‘L’ shaped section not quite a metre wide that goes in front of the first cupboard for about two metres, then turns right to run between the benches and the bed to the end wall. With the lead cop at the far end, then the other four lined up in front of him, there’s damn all space left in the room for anyone else to stand in the room to see what was going on. Ed picked up some print books he had for proof reading, and left the room by squeezing by the police officers.
After the search the room was seriously disturb. Later, Ed could not find many things, but had no way to know if they were taken or had just been lost in the shuffle during their search. The same situation applied to the other two rooms they really searched: the front room Ed’s son, Al, now used as a bedroom, and the side room Al used to use as a bedroom, until it got too hot and he moved to the front room which has a large air conditioner in it. Little was done in the bathroom, kitchen, pantry, and laundry. However, when they went into the back room, and found a huge pile of old computer gear they took a few, and gave up on the much older gear. By the end Ed had no idea of what they took, beyond his main computer and his ‘critical data back-up external drive.’
They did hand over a copy of the written list of items taken, but the information they had down on it was mostly useless. Some of the items they listed as ‘USB drives’ were actually sound cards clearly marked so.
One interesting event in the process was when they started to take Al’s main computer they noticed it had a water cooling system, and the cops didn’t want to have it in their car, in case it leaked. So they tried to take out the hard drives, found they had troubles, and ordered Al to take them out to give to them.
At the time Ed told the police about Al’s mental health condition and asked them to process the mobile phones as a safety issue, and the USB device as a priority, so the could get Al’s life back to normal as quickly as possible. The police said the inspection should only take two to three months, and they’ll have anything not suspicious handed back then.
The Items Seized
The selection and recording of the items seized made it clear the officers involved had no understanding of the technology involved. Also, many items taken were a quantity of it, but they noted only one item. Four 4 TB hard drives removed from Al’s computer were listed as just one Seagate HDD, not the four taken, and later returned in the one bag with a single exhibit number on it (more on that, later). Two sound cards taken were listed as USB drives, because they used USB plugs, the same for a Bluetooth transmitter, and a USB Hub/Card Reader. One of the listed SD cards is actually a micro SD to SD converter, and is clearly seen to be what it is. Some of the SD cards were new items taken out of the factory sealed packages of the e-book readers they were with. The readers had been bought for resale, but now can’t be sold as new, a loss of a few hundred dollars each. They even took the printed books Ed took from his bedroom to try to read while they did their search. They also insisted on having the card numbers for Ed’s banking cards, too.
In the many months between the seizure and the details of what was taken became important Ed had lost the flimsy papers he’d been given as his copy of what was taken. However, in a document handed to the court by the police on 19 January 2016 they stated thirty-six items of interest had been seized, and nineteen were still to be examined. In the list provided by the police, in the next chapter, they listed only thirty-five items, did one get lost, or couldn’t they count properly in the first place? Only the original police records can answer that question.
List of Items Seized
Item No:... Exhibit No:... Description
01 ... X0001725270 ... ASUS Computer #
02 ... X0001725271 ... Flash Key #
03 ... X0001725272 ... Mobile Phone
04 ... X0001725273 ... Black and Silver Camera
05 ... X0001725274 ... Dell Computer Tower
06 ... X0001725275 ... Nexstar #
07 ... X0001725276 ... CD’s / DVD’s #
08 ... X0001725277 ... ASUS Tablet #
09 ... X0001725278 ... Buffalo HDD #
10 ... X0001725279 ... San Disk SD
11 ... X0001725280 ... White Computer Tower
12 ... X0001725281 ... Speedy SD
13 ... X0001725282 ... Panasonic SD Card
14 ... X0001725283 ... Ultima SD Card
15 ... X0001725284 ... HTC Mobile Phone
16 ... X0001725285 ... USB Drives
17 ... X0001725286 ... DVD/CD Drive
18 ... X0001725287 ... HP Laptop #
19 ... X0001725288 ... SD Card
20 ... X0001725289 ... USB Drives
21 ... X0001725290 ... Dell Laptop #
22 ... X0001725291 ... Seagate HDD
23 ... X0001725292 ... Cooler Master
24 ... X0001725293 ... SD Card
25 ... X0001725294 ... Lenovo laptop #
26 ... X0001725295 ... KDATA USB
27 ... X0001725296 ... ASUS Tablet
28 ... X0001725297 ... Samsung HDD
29 ... X0001725298 ... Stack of CD’s / DVD’s #
30 ... X0001724892 ... Seagate HDD
31 ... X0001724893 ... USB Drive
32 ... X0001724894... 8 Novels #
33 ... X0001724895 ... Icon Computer Tower
34 ... X0001724896 ... Silver Computer Tower
35 ... X0001724897 ... USB Drives
About Ed and Al
Ed and Al live in a small rural town over one hundred kilometres from anywhere, and it suits them both. They live much like hermits and stay inside working on their computers. The local shop is only a couple of blocks away, and handles most of their grocery needs well. Due to a number of regular medical and government appointments they’re often in a city they used to live near, and do their specialist shopping while in the city. But they don’t get much then, except for good grocery specials.
Al is Ed’s twenty-eight year-old son. He has one of the more severe forms of Asperger’s Syndrome, which is part of the Autistic Spectrum. The main problem with Al is he has major problems communicating with people, because most people speak at a speed which is too fast for him to comprehend what they say. Al has to hear and fully process words one at a time, be they written or spoken. He can read a lot faster than he can understand speech. He’s on the disability pension because of his inability to understand what most people are saying to him.
Due to problems in school, before he was properly diagnosed in high school, Al has some anger management issues, as well. He doesn’t drive, because he doesn’t have a drivers’ licence. Every time he gets behind the wheel of a car he has an anxiety attack.
Al spends most of his life on-line exchanging messages with people, and also playing various on-line computer games. Without access to the games and on-line contacts he gets extremely wound up, anxious, and angry. Then it takes a lot out of Ed to calm Al down again.
Ed is in his early 60’s, has a milder form of Asperger’s Syndrome, a damaged back, left hip, left ankle, and right knee. He’d worked most of his life. He did part-time work after school and during school breaks from when he was thirteen years old, and started full-time work when he was sixteen years of age. Over the years he worked at a wide variety of jobs. However, his health has been declining since he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2004, and in 2005 he was put on the disability pension.
For the last decade most of Ed’s life has revolved around his story writing. He also did some volunteer work at a Family History Centre, helping people look up records on their ancestors.
All his life Ed has had an interest in naturalism and nudity. He collected a large number of naturalist magazines in his younger days. When he got a scanner for his computer in 1990 he started scanning the magazine images into his computer. He then found out about various websites where the same magazines were available on-line. About that time he also found out about newsgroup and how varied was the information could be found there. From 1990 through to about 2010 Ed used automated software to download and store on his computer various files from specific websites and newsgroups. Many were nudist groups and images. Some were from artistic photographic sites as well.
Over the years Ed accumulated over two and a half million images of everything from aardvarks to Zuni ruins in this way. However, he was collecting them at a much faster rate than he could review them to decide what to keep and what to delete. The collection of unexamined images grew. In mid 2015 Ed bought new computer gear to have one powerful enough for him to go through all the backlogged files without taking forever to move or delete files in large numbers. He then moved all the files he could find on old computers onto the new computer, so he could start going through them to delete files he didn’t wish to keep. At no time did Ed take, create, or post any images of nude people.
He made a back up copy of everything, over seven million files, and about half are images with about a million being images of people. Then the Raid mentioned earlier happened.
Post Raid Police Interactions
First week of August 2015
About a week after the raid Ed rang the police station, and spoke with a sergeant about the case. The officer was familiar with it, and told Ed the officer handling the case was unavailable. So Ed restated his position about the mobile phones being a safety issue, due to the remote location of where he lives, over 100 km from any major town, and the wish to have the USB devices given priority. The sergeant said he’d pass the massage on, and will ask the officer handling the case to call Ed. No call was received from the police officer involved.
5 October 2015
Eleven weeks since the search. Ed phoned the police station to follow up on what was happening, and was told a message would be passed to the detectives, and he’ll be called back. No such call received.
19 October 2015
Ed made another follow up phone call, and spoke to the Local Area Commander, was told the detectives will call back. A Detective Inspector phoned Ed, and they talked about the matter. Ed again stating his order of priorities, and why. An hour and a half later the case detective rang to tell Ed of delays due to qualified staff issues, and nothing was done yet. Ed again stated the priorities, and why.
23 October 2015
Ed visited the courthouse to see the search warrant application, and was surprised at the basis for it. He also left message with the police to have the detectives call him. No phone call from the police is received.
Although Ed was allowed to view the request for the search warrant, he was refused permission to make or have a photocopy or to take a photo of it to take away with him.
A summary of the reasons for the issue of the search warrant is:
- Ed posted a comment request for a password to several image sets at an overseas image website,
- One of the restricted sets was deleted for child porn,
- The other sets were deleted for violations of site rules,
- A comment on one set was the model had a ‘nice smile, ‘
- A comment on another set was about the set being in the Nude Category, but the set was non-nude. A comment by member of the Australian Institute of Criminology stated the comment showed the poster was only interested in nudity at the site.
The request did mention Ed had several images posted to the site, and none of them were of people or of any concern to the police.
On the paperwork shown to Ed there were no names of the image sets involved, no copies of the images involved, and no information about the passwords ever being received, or the other image sets being viewed by Ed. Nor an indication any images seen by Ed were unlawful.
27 October 2015
Ed wrote a letter to the Police about the issue and requested the return of the materials, and gave his contact details with a requested offer to discuss the matter. He also discussed, at length, how the site worked, and how few password requests were ever fulfilled. The police didn’t contact Ed at all. A copy of this first letter is included, later.
16 November 2015
Ed visited the courthouse to speak with the Acting Registrar about the situation. He was advised the reason he couldn’t get a copy of the search warrant request was because it was against departmental policy, and not the law. He can see it or approve others to see it, because the law says they must allow that. The Acting Registrar spoke with the police about the matter, and told Ed to go to the station right now, and they’d speak with him.
After a half hour wait Ed spoke with the case detective. The phones had been cleared in the last few weeks, but they could only give him his, because they’d misplaced his son’s phone. They’d started reviewing one computer, as well, but hadn’t even looked at the USB devices or any of the other items Ed had listed as being a priority item. Arrangements were made for a formal interview at another town’s police station for 10:00 a.m. on 24 November 2015, because Ed will be in the town on that day. Ed mentioned he had other appointments on the day, but was assured the interview would be finished by noon. At the meeting Ed asked for important data files on his work be copied and given to him after they checked them, and was flatly refused being given anything.
Angered by the police officer’s total disregard for his son’s situation and welfare, and their refusal to allow him to get their lives back in order, after leaving the police station Ed returned to the Court House, to lodge a request with the court for the return of the materials seized.
24 November 2015
Ed had a formal interview with case detective at another police station. It started almost an hour late, and ran until after 2:00 p.m. when Ed had to halt it to go to another appointment he couldn’t avoid. Then another fifteen minutes delays for his son’s phone’s paperwork. No USB devices had been examined yet, so they couldn’t be returned. Before the interview started he was told he’d be given a copy after it, but wasn’t.
8 December 2015
At the Local Court Ed was informed, in open court, the police had concerns about items on the drives of one of the computers seized. On the orders of the Magistrate Ed was given a copy of the report the police were lodging with the court. The case was set for a further hearing on 19 January 2016. After leaving the court Ed left a message at the police station asking for any of the three police officers involved in the case to call him. He received no phone calls.
The document lodged by the police stated the technical staff to exam the items taken had been booked for 6 to 8 August 2015, but were not available then, due to unforeseen circumstances. However, a local police technical officer was able to check the two phones and the one computer in recent weeks. Totally ignoring the priority request by Ed.
15 December 2015
Ed wrote to the detectives setting out, in writing, his priorities and why they were that way. He also offered to amend the items to be returned now, and let them have the rest for as long as they wanted. Ed asked for certain work related data files be copied and provided to him to enable him to complete the projects. He also asked they contact him to discuss the matters in the letter. He wasn’t contacted about the letter.
28 December 2015
Ed was called by the case detective, because he wanted to speak to Al to arrange an interview at the local station in two days time. Ed said he’d pass the message on when his son woke up, because he was asleep. When Al woke up Ed gave him the message, and Al was angry about the sudden request. Ed relayed a number of phone messages to the case detective, and explained, again, about Al’s mental health issues. Al had an exchange of emails to cover what the constable wanted. This is the only police initiated contact with Ed or Al since the execution of the search warrant. All other contacts had been initiated by Ed.
Note: At this time it was clear this was going to drag out for months. Until now spending on replacement of items had been limited, but the lengthening delays in getting things back were making some things now very urgent, and a lot of replacement equipment was purchased so Al, and Ed, could get their life back to as normal as possible. However, that was severely restricted still, because a lot of critical data was still with the police. Thus Ed still wasn’t able to complete outstanding work projects or answer emails that were outstanding at the time of the search.
11 January 2016
Ed wrote to the police and the court amending the list of items to be returned to those belonging to his son and the USB device he keeps his critical data back-up copies on. These would enable his son to return to a normal existence, and allow Ed to complete most of his work projects.
19 January 2016
The matter returned to the local court. Again the police stated they had trouble with trained technicians to examine the items. In the written report to the court, of which Ed was given a copy by the court, the police state of the 36 items taken 19 were yet to be examined. They identified one item as having some material of concern to them. They also stated two items, the phones have been returned. They also stated the local technical officer needed four more weeks to complete his examination of the material, due to his other operational needs.
The magistrate adjourned the matter until 19 March 2016 to allow the examination, and indicated he wanted it resolved by then.
3 February 2016
Ed wrote to the police asking for the cleared items to be returned, and also asked for items that weren’t data storage devices to be returned. He requested they contact him about the matter. He was not contacted about the letter or its contents.
17 March 2016
The matter went back before the Local Court, but a different magistrate was on the bench. The magistrate was not prepared to hand anything over until after the police had finished the investigation. There was no new report on the matter lodged by the police. The matter was set over again until 28 April 2016. The Police Prosecutor agreed to pass on a request to the case officer to have the examined items that have been cleared returned to Ed.
31 March 2016
Ed wrote to the court and the police to amend the list of items to only the items except the drives with material they had concerns with.
25 April 2016
The case detective rang Ed at 5.35 p.m. to ask him to visit the police station 27 April 2016 to collect some items ready to hand over. He was not happy when Ed said he was unable to do it on the Wednesday, due to health issues, and Ed suggested it happen after he go to the court on 28 April 2016. The case detective was extremely persistent in trying to see Ed on 27 April 2016, before the court hearing on 28 April 2016
28 April 2016
At the Local Court Ed requested a new date, as the police wanted him to collect some items after the court, and, depending on what Ed was given, the matter may or may not be resolved. A new date of 9 May 2016 was set.
After the court Ed went to the Police Station after having an early lunch at 11:00 a.m., because Ed was told the case detective wouldn’t be available until about midday. At the station the detective came out to see Ed just before midday, and took him to the custody room, where Ed had to wait for over an hour while the detective arranged to do an interview. After a long interview where Ed was shown some images he’d never seen before, which the detective stated came from some of the materials taken in the search, Ed was taken down and charged with possession of child abuse material. At the start of the interview Ed was told he’d get a copy of the interview, but wasn’t given it at the end.
Ed was in the police station from about 11.30 a.m. until about 8.00 p.m. when Ed left after bail was allowed and Ed was told to appear at the Local Court on 17 May 2016, during that time Ed was offered, and given, a number of drinks of water. Ed was never offered any food at all. Twice Ed asked the Custody Officer for a couple of the sweets Ed had in his bag so he could keep his blood sugar levels up. The Custody Officer allowed this, because Ed had previously informed them he was diabetic, something the case detective knew from the interview at the other police station. More about the bail conditions, later.
At no point did the case detective attempt to return any of the removed items to be taken back to Al.
9 May 2016
At the Local Court the magistrate was hesitant to order anything be handed over, due to the charges laid. He instructed Ed to write to the police for a list of items with the status of their examination and how they relate to the charges.
Ed left a message for the case detective to call him, because he wasn’t working that day. Ed was not called back
11 May 2016
Ed sends an email to the case detective stating what the magistrate wants in regards of information for the next court hearing. No reply is received, not even an automatic confirmation of receipt.
17 May 2016
Just before court commences the police prosecutor hands over a list of the items seized with notations of what can be returned today, and the status of the other items.
The follow items on the list were returned to Ed: 04, 05, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 33, 34, and 35. He was informed items 18, 21, and 25 were being retained to be shipped to Sydney for examination, since the local police didn’t have the chargers needed to power them. The case detective had said there was material of concern to them on items 01, 06, and 09. The case detective said he had no intention of returning anything else until after the court case was over, regardless of what the examinations showed. He also said he doubted anything else would be returned, even then.
7 June 2016
The matter went before the Local Court, along with an application to vary the bail conditions. But the matter was adjoined unheard.
14 June 2016
The matter went before the Local Court, with an application to vary the bail conditions. But the matter was adjoined unheard.
28 June 2016
The matter went before the Local Court, along with an application to vary the bail conditions. Ed pleaded not guilty to the charges. The bail variation hearing was deferred to later in the day. The case detective later turned up in very casual dress, spoke with the police prosecutor, and when the bail variation was heard he opposed any bail variations.
After a short presentation by Ed’s solicitor, and nothing presented by the prosecutor except his opposition, Ed was examined under oath. A mild change in the bail conditions was approved. More on this, later.
The matter is now down to return to court on 15 August 2016, along with two applications by Ed about the return of more items seized. The police are ordered to provide Ed’s solicitor with a copy of their evidence by 8 August 2015.
When Ed was charged the police sergeant applied the default ‘cookie cutter’ version of the terms applied to someone accused of a crime to do with children:
- Continue to live at his registered residence.
- Not go within one hundred metres of a school or child care centre.
- Be of good behaviour.
The fourth point of daily reporting to police was voided, because the nearest manned police station was over forty kilometres away.
Most of Ed’s life is already spent as a hermit, and has for more than ten years. He doesn’t leave the house, except to do yard work, when he’s well enough to do so, collect the mail, go shopping, go to church, do some volunteer work, go to medical appointments, and take Al to appointments for government agencies. Most of these are at the city they used to live near, and is now over one hundred kilometres away.
On examination of maps Ed saw he couldn’t visit the city, because the highway went within the restricted zone around a school. Checks of the back ways into the city showed the same problem. Also, if he could get into the city movement in the city was restricted by the many child care centres and schools in it, most were on major roads within the city.
An application to vary the terms was made by Ed’s solicitor, and was down for a first hearing on 7 June 2016. It was 28 June 2016 before it was finally heard. After it was proven Ed couldn’t attend any medical appointments or get Al to his government required appointments the magistrate approved a variation to allow Ed to drive past schools, child care centres, and sports ovals without stopping while going directly to an appointment for the government or for medical reasons, and leaving the area immediately after an appointment.
The police presented nothing to show Ed was a danger to anyone.
First Letter to the Police
(This letter is altered to remove identifying names and locations.)
Subject: Return of materials seized by police.
Dear Sir or Madam,
On 23 July 2016 police served a search warrant on me. At that time I was told the items seized should be returned in 2 to 3 months. I asked they put a priority to checking my son’s USB devices and our mobile phones because the phones are our primary communication devices and my son needs his USB items to access his on-line game sites. Near the end an officer said something about things posted on the Internet, and that made me wonder if I was who they were after, because I don’t post any child abuse material. So I asked to know what the justification for the search was, but the detectives said I couldn’t be told, and didn’t clarify or expand on their comments.
On 5 October 2015 I rang to follow up on what was happening, and was told a message would be passed to the detectives and I’ll be called back. I received no such call.
On 19 October 2015 I made another follow up call. After speaking to a few other people I had a call from the case detective who informed me there were delays due to issues with qualified staff to look at the gear seized. Once more I asked if I could see what was used to justify the search warrant, and was told no.
Later that day I received advice from a LawAccess NSW solicitor I am entitled to look at the material used to request the search warrant. I contacted the Local Courthouse and found I could see it, but had to wait until the Registrar returned on Friday 23 Oct. 2015.
On Friday 23 October 2015 I visited the courthouse to see the application, and was surprised to find out there was nothing in the material demonstrating I had been posting any child abuse material (which is what the search warrant was after). It involved a number of text message posts attached to lawful images posted by others and did note the images I posted were lawful. Some messages did mention nudity and some were linked with lawful nude images, not child abuse images. There was also an assertion by a psychologist of the Australian Institute of Criminology that I might be involved with child abuse material.
Image Source is a free image hosting for everyone. Intended to be used for showing your pictures we do not allow users to upload photos from other sites (carrying copyright strings of such).
We can not be held responsible for any data loss. We reserve the right to lock out your account if you fail to follow our rules. We can not be held responsible for what user post on site, but we do take care to keep host as clean as possible. By signing in for service you are bound to this and rules below.
No pictures from other sites (pictures containing other site’s watermark and/or copyright or had been previously posted on the iMGSRC.RU or elsewhere on the internet).
No, really, no reposts. If you got caught with reposting anything ‘from friend’, ‘from web’ or elsewhere you are already doomed.
No porn without password. These photos can be viewed by minors, which is no good. ‘EZ’, ‘easy’ or password in album name/description all counts as ‘no password’.
ANY nudity must be posted in nude section.
ABSOLUTELY NO CHILD PORN (erected pen itself is already porn, keep that in mind) and no child abusive pics (urinating, spanking, bound pics and alike). Your account will be banned permanently.
No ads (links to other sites, etc) on images and/or album name/description and/or comments.
No spam, no trading requests. In addition to account ban your IP will also be banned.
PS: If we block your account, it means you violated rules some way. If you have read rules above you already know what you did wrong.
In the search warrant request a major point was made about image sets being withdrawn, while they only mention one or two that are withdrawn for being child abuse material. This clearly shows the original information from the site identifies what is withdrawn for child abuse and what is withdrawn for other reasons. Most of the withdrawn image sets where I made comments were withdrawn because they were copied from other Russian based pay sites that use professional models paid to work for them. The models some of the sites employ are of many ages with most being in their teens or early twenties. Thus they weren’t withdrawn for child abuse because that reason isn’t noted against them.
I admit I don’t have a clear memory of every set I viewed in the past, I do remember there were some I viewed and found most of the images to be legal, but a couple I felt breached the No Child Porn aspects of the site terms, so I reported those sets to the site managers and the sets were withdrawn soon afterwards. Over the years I’ve reported many image sets and posters to the site managers for breaches of the terms of service, including some for child abuse material and some for offering to trade images. The the protected sets with offers to trade images by email is where I suspect the child abuse material is most likely to be found; I don’t get involved with them and report them to the site managers where I can.
My Comments on the Site
The comments I made on the site, both those listed in the warrant request and those not listed, break down into the three basic groups below, which I’ve addressed below. I also note the list for the warrant doesn’t include every comment I’ve posted to the site.
1. Requests for passwords: Often a poster will post a few images from a set and say the rest are available if you ask for the password. I ask for the passwords in the comments section and sometimes get given the password, sometimes I’m not given the password. It has been my experience the majority of such restricted access material has been legal nude images copied from pay sites. There have been some rare times where child abuse images were in them and I report the ones I found to the site managers via their reporting system.
2. Comments on the image contents: There are very few of these, and those I commented on are all lawful images, and I made lawful comments. Comments ranged from a person’s smile being nice to the identification of the same model being given another name in other sets, or asking about something in the image. One is about an odd arch in the background of an image, I asked as it took up the island it was on. None of them are unlawful or rude, with the exception of a set posted with an inflammatory title where I made the comment the girls in the images were Catholic girls in fancy dress on their way to their first communion and not Muslim child brides on their way to a group wedding as stated in the title.
3. Comments on the misuse of tags: Way too often people will post a set of images and then tag it as Nudity when there is no nudity in the image set. Sometimes I’m short tempered when I see these and make abrasive comments about them, usually along the lines of: “Nudity is for nude images,” or something similar. The majority of sets like this are of fully clothed late teen females. Again, none of the images are unlawful.
Summary of the Search Warrant Request
The warrant is based on comments to legal images, the fact some images were withdrawn for being reposted images, and an assertion by the AIC psychologist. The request even states I’ve not posted any child abuse images. There is no factual evidence of me ever posting any child abuse images or supporting them.
The Material Seized
I’m amused by some of the items seized, especially the print books of my stories that I had for proof reading and things like my son’s USB sound cards. In the material is my main computer system which I bought the parts for in mid May 2015 and put together over the following two weeks before moving the hard-drives from older systems into it. On the system are four hard-drives with material copied from older systems I collected over the last 25 years. There are over 7 million files on those drives and they include stories and images collected during that time. Many were obtained during the 1990s and early 2000s using Microsoft Windows and software that automatically scanned certain newsgroups to download attachments, and some trial software for downloading images from websites. It was done this way because it made a better use of the slow dial-up Internet service I had by doing it when I was asleep or away from the house. Much of this material has not yet been viewed by me, what I have viewed was all legal at the time I viewed it. In July I started a project to slowly review and delete any material I was not interested in or I felt may cause issues with current NSW laws. With millions files to review I knew this would take time.
On 23 July 2015 I mentioned I was aware my system had material I did not know the content of, and there was old material I wished to review in light of recent changes to the NSW laws, and thus started the project to cull the files. I did this because I was told to mention everything they should be aware of. The images on my system include many of animals, vehicles, buildings, scenic views, skies, people in all sorts of activity, nude people, and people of legal age engaged in sexual activity. The nude images include a lot of nude people of all ages, many from nudist sites and magazines and many of professional models.
At no point have I created, or posted to the Internet, or disseminated in any way images of unclothed children or children engage in sexual activity. Nor have I posted any written works of a graphic sexual nature where a person having sex is under the age of consent.
I know it will take many hundreds of hours to review all the material seized, especially my main system’s hard-drives and the back-up compressed copies of my son’s main system. This will be a very expensive exercise and one which will yield nothing of benefit to the community at all, while incurring a huge cost and keeping my son’s life disrupted until his things are returned to him so he can get back to his full on-line activities.
In light of the fact there is no hard evidence of any wrong doing by me, just an assertion I may have, I request the immediate return of all the material seized on 23 July 2015. I may be contacted on xx xxxx xxxx or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know when I can collect our things from the police station or if you wish to discuss this matter.
27 October 2015
Second Letter to the Police
(This letter is altered to remove identifying names and locations.)
Subject: Return of materials seized by police - 2nd Letter
Dear Sir or Madam,
On 23 July 2015 NSW Police officers executed a search warrant, and removed a number of items. Instead of listing all the items I categorise them as:
1. Main computer removed from the bedroom of Ed, constructed in June 2015 with components purchased in mid May 2015.
2. Disc drives transferred into the computer above in June 2015.
3. Other computers and hard drives removed from the bedroom of Ed.
4. Hard drives removed from the computers in the room used by Al.
5. USB devices and memory cards removed from the bedroom of Ed.
6. USB devices and memory cards removed from the other rooms of the house.
7. Computers and other devices removed from the rooms used by Al.
8. Print books removed from kitchen, originally in the bedroom of Ed.
For reasons I will detail shortly, I’m after the return of items 4, 6, 7, one device from 5, and some files copied from 3 as high priority items. The rest of the items you may retain and take as long as you wish to ascertain I’ve not been producing or dissemination any unlawful material. Also, I would appreciate getting item 1 back without its disc drives at this time.
The files I need copies of are those for the e-mail client (Thunderbird), browser (Fire Fox), work files (writing), and some e-pub books (from Baen books and Wes Boyd) I purchased about then and wish to read. The Thunderbird and Firefox directories I need copied are system files and hidden in the root directory.
Both Al and myself live on-line and the materials removed include our identities and over ninety percent of our lives in the files. Each day you keep Al’s gear it costs him money because he’s unable to play the games he has on annual subscription and he cannot access most of them or renew the subscriptions without the codes in the gear you have. Any subscriptions not renewed within weeks of their expiry sees the characters and everything linked to the account deleted, and some are due for renewal in the coming months. All the details for my contacts, emails in and out, work files, and research files and links are on the computers you took as well. The result is since the seizure both Al and myself have not been able to live anything like our normal lives because we’re out of contact with most of our regular contacts. Also, I’ve a lot of incomplete work and unanswered emails I need to deal with. I can’t recharge my phone on-line because the codes I need are in the computer you have and I don’t have any copies. Although I keep back-up copies of all my important data, you also have my back-up copies in your care at this time, so I’ve got nothing to work with or work on, and even had to ring the Tax Office and talk with them about my tax return because I don’t have access to the definitive data on the computer.
My priorities are to get Al’s gear back to him as soon as possible. He has a mental health condition that’s part of the Autistic Spectrum and his on-line life helps with his stability. However, the restrictions of not having all his access is having an adverse effect and he’s getting depressed about the inability to play his games and the loss of his characters if he’s not able to renew his subscriptions in time. He has a past history of self-harm when very depressed or extremely stressed out, and I’m getting more worried abut his depression and stress levels each day. Due to his condition he doesn’t handle change well and can’t handle stress at all. He also has significant issues with aural communications because he has to process each word said to him one after the other, and often misses things when people do not talk to him real slow. Because of this he tries to avoid face to face interactions with people he’s not very familiar with. All this feeds back on itself in the current situation.
The time and effort I spend in keeping Al calm and balanced isn’t helping my blood pressure or stress levels. They’re also aggravated by my inability to deal with outstanding issues and stories due to you having everything in your property room.
When the items were seized we were told it would likely take two to three months to have it checked, and I felt we could handle that. But to find out nothing had been done when I rang the police at the end of the three months was very annoying. At four different times I’ve told different police offices the priorities in processing things so I can limit the problems with Al, but at this time the only items done as priority were our phones.
On 16 November I spoke with the case detective and was stunned to learn all my requests to prioritise the processing of the equipment, apart from the mobile phones, seem to have been ignored. When I asked about getting copies of some files I was given a very definite ‘No.’ On seeing it would likely be several more months before Al or I could get something to sort of resemble our normal lives back I went to the court and lodged a request for the return of the items seized as it seemed, at the time, the only way I could get Al’s life back on track before he totally lost it. As you’re aware, the Magistrate has put that matter back to 19 January 2016. I’m very concerned about Al’s health and welfare due to the great stress this situation is causing him.
In the six months since the seizures I’ve left several messages with the police for the police officers handling this matter, and the only time I’ve had any return phone calls were the day I rang the Local Area Commander. I was never called to be told there was a problem getting technical expertise, never called to be told the phones were done; that came about by an enquiry at the station when I was in the city on another matter. On the morning of 8 December I left messages for two police officers about this, and am still awaiting a return call on the 15th. From my perspective, it seems the only time anything gets done is when I contact the police and they react to my contact. I’ve been co-operating with the police on this all along, but everything seems to be a one-way street away from me.
I fully realise you can’t just accept my word I wasn’t producing or disseminating anything, or intentionally breaking any law. However, if we can come to an agreement to allow me to get items 4, 6, 7, and the files I mention so we can start to get our lives back in some sort of reasonable order I’ll be happy to withdraw the application before the court and let you take as long as you want to examine the rest of it.
In light of the matters above I request the return of the items listed above that were seized on 23 July 2015. I may be contacted email at email@example.com or on xxx xxxx xxxx or xx xxxx xxxx to discuss this matter.
15 December 2015