The man was arrested after police executed a search warrant, seizing his computer and other items.
The man was arrested after police executed a search warrant, seizing his computer and other items.

Flood hero charged with possessing child porn

A retired Coffs Coast firefighter who received a bravery award for his role in rescuing several lives during the 2009 floods has been charged with possessing child pornography.

Stephen James Foster, who was remanded in custody following his arrest, made an application for bail during his first court appearance at Coffs Harbour Local Court on Monday.

Dressed in green, a balding and bespectacled Foster appeared on screen via audiovisual link from jail, and was supported by two family members seated in the courtroom.

The court heard police had executed a search warrant at the part-time computer technician's home after the IP address came to their attention, and seized several items which are currently under analysis.

The prosecution told the court that police had so far examined only 2 per cent of Foster's computer, but had allegedly found 300 offensive images.

Foster was one of 75 local firefighters who received bravery awards from Fire and Rescue NSW for their life-saving roles in the 2009 Coffs Harbour floods.
Foster was one of 75 local firefighters who received bravery awards from Fire and Rescue NSW for their life-saving roles in the 2009 Coffs Harbour floods.

 

It was heard that at least one of the alleged child abuse images was of the "highest end possible" in terms of offensiveness.

In arguing for him to remain behind bars, the prosecution said that the man had made admissions to police at the scene and had indicated an "ongoing desire" in child abuse material.

They said the community needed to be protected.

"People that have these desires drive the need for the production of this material - and the cycle perpetuates.

"The risk of reoffending won't be mitigated by bail conditions when he has such an ingrained interest."

The defence however argued that bail conditions, which were proposed to include no access to internet or internet-enabled devices, would prevent him from reoffending.

The court heard Foster was suffering from a heart condition which had forced him to retire from firefighting at the age of 40 around ten years ago.

Foster was refused bail at Coffs Harbour Local Court on Monday. Photo: Coffs Coast Advocate
Foster was refused bail at Coffs Harbour Local Court on Monday. Photo: Coffs Coast Advocate

 

It was argued that his health concerns, as well as the nature of the matters he'd been charged with, would make him "vulnerable" in custody - with the defence telling the court that Foster had expressed to them concerns for his safety.

They further argued that he was of good character with strong community ties, and had no criminal history.

Bail was however refused by Magistrate Ian Rodgers, who said the case against Foster was strong and would likely result in a full time jail sentence if he is convicted.

He is yet to enter a plea.

"In my view there are no conditions that could be imposed that would mitigate against the risks, particularly as to endangering the safety of the community - bail is refused."

Foster will appear in Coffs Harbour Local Court again on April 8.



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