Ben McCormack attacked after leaving court

6th December 2017 9:42 AM
UPDATED 2:31 PM

UPDATE: FORMER A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack had a cup of water and spit thrown at him as he left court after avoiding jail on child porn charges.

A man who claimed to be a victim of sexual abuse threw a cup of water he'd apparently also spat in over McCormack as he left the Sydney District Court this morning.

McCormack, 43, was convicted and ordered to pay $1000 and placed on a good behaviour bond for three years after pleading guilty to two child porn charges.

The man called him a "f***ing filthy maggot" as he approached McCormack, who had been standing next to his lawyer Sam Macedone, who was talking to journalists.

The moment the verbal abuse began, McCormack walked quickly through a large crowd of journalists - which is when the man struck. "That happened to me when I was a f***ing kid," the man yelled as McCormack quickly got into a waiting red Audi.

The man had been waiting outside court for an hour and could be heard muttering obscenities and his outrage at McCormack's sentence.

McCormack pleaded guilty in September to two charges of using a carriage service to transmit child pornography after Skype conversations between him and a West Australian paedophile were intercepted by police.

Mr Macedone said the reaction of the man was typical of someone who didn't understand the facts of the case.

"People like [the attacker] don't really bother me, you find them everywhere. That's his problem and he's got his own problems ... I feel sorry that Ben's got to dry-clean his suit but you expect that," he said.

"He has accused Ben of doing something that he has not done but that's how some people think."

WHY McCORMACK ESCAPED JAIL

Judge Paul Conlon said it was clear from the conversations between the two men they were talking about their shared "fantasies".

He said the facts in the McCormack case were quite different to the cases of similar charges that normally came to court. In his judgment he said it was clear the worst aspects of child porn cases were "absent" in McCormack's case

"There was no transmission of pictures or images of child pornography ... it does not include pictures of actual child victims. There was no attempt to sexually exploit children or grooming of any child to partake in child pornography."

The Crown referred to the content of the conversations and also of a video McCormack sent to the man of him masturbating as proof of the "objective seriousness of the offences" and dismissed the defence of fantasy talk as "irrelevant".

But Judge Conlon said the "overwhelming inference that I drew was that these conversations were examples of fantasising about young male persons."

"The fact that this offender's communications were the product of fantasy and imaginings is just one of the many factors a court is entitled to consider in assessing the seriousness of the offending conduct."

The judge said the Crown conceded the charges couldn't have been brought in their current form if they had taken place "in a private setting" and not over the internet.

"Accordingly, my assessment of the objective gravity in respect of both sequences is that they fall towards the lower end of the range of offences of their type."

EARLIER: THE self-confessed "proud pedo" Ben McCormack has escaped jail on child porn charges because his "wish list" of sex with young boys was just "fantasy".

McCormack, 43, was sentenced to a good behaviour bond for three years and fined $1000 this morning at Sydney's Downing Centre District Court.

McCormack pleaded guilty to two charges of using a carriage service to transmit child pornography after Skype conversations between him and a West Australian paedophile were intercepted by police.

Judge Paul Conlon said it was clear from the conversations between the two men they were talking about their shared " fantasies".

"It is a clear indication what they have been talking about is their shared fantasies."

He referred specifically to an explicit conversation following images he sent to the other man that were never recovered by police, but alluded to semen stained underwear and Speedos.

The judge said the facts in the McCormack case was quite different to the cases of similar charges that normally came to court.

He said it was clear the worst aspects of child porn cases was "absent" in McCormack's case.

"There was no transmission of pictures or images of child pornography ... it does not include pictures of actual child victims. There was no attempt to sexually exploit children or grooming."

In his submissions, McCormack's lawyer Sam Macedone said the conversations were a fantasy and a "wish list".

The Crown said that was irrelevant.

Judge Conlon said: "The overwhelming inference I drew from the conversations was they were examples of fantasies about a group of young male persons."

He said the Crown conceded the charges couldn't have been brought in their current form if they had taken place in person and not over the internet.

As a result, he considered the charges fell at the " lower and of the scale".

Judge Conlon believed McCormack had shown "genuine contrition" and accepted personal responsibility.

Former Nine journalist Ben McCormack arrives at Downing Centre Court for his sentencing on Wednesday. Picture: AAP Image/Peter Rae
Former Nine journalist Ben McCormack arrives at Downing Centre Court for his sentencing on Wednesday. Picture: AAP Image/Peter Rae

He had lost his career as a journalist where he had been "well known nationally".

"It is clear his job was his life. He will never again work in media again" before adding that McCormack believed his existence had been "destroyed".

As he sentenced McCormack, Judge Conlon said a motivating factor was his previous good character as a journalist with A Current Affair - and also that he sought help to control his deviant sexual urges long before his arrest.

A psychologist who interviewed McCormack revealed he found the idea of sex with young boys "distressing" and didn't believe he posed a risk to children.

His risk of reoffending we estimated to be low.

The Crown dismissed the admissions he'd made as convenient and self serving and that they were made post arrest.

But judge Conlon believed them, saying he believed they were accurate and rather being self serving they were "against self interest".

He continued: "It would seem indicative of a person prepared to confront the truth necessary if one is seeking rehabilitation."

McCormack was admitted to hospital in April after a suicide attempt involving a "hose and car exhaust and cut wrists".

Ben McCormack was spared jail. Picture: AAP Image/Peter Rae
Ben McCormack was spared jail. Picture: AAP Image/Peter Rae

In a 17 page suicide note he detailed his anguish that included "fighting demons since he was 11 years of age" and his shame, guilt, despair and helplessness.

"He stated he couldn't live with the public humiliation."

It was revealed late last month McCormack had sought professional help for his sexual interest in young boys because of "self loathing" it caused him.

The ex-television journalist approached psychologists for help years before he was charged with child porn offences - and he was so fearful of his urges he even avoided children.

After reading McCormack's lawyer Sam Macedone's submissions, Judge Conlon said he had "sought professional assistance for what he knew was wrong" and the "self loathing" it caused for many years.

The Crown was seeking a custodial sentence for the 43-year-old but at the previous hearing Judge Conlon suggested the offences were of the lower end of the scale and the agreed facts of the case were not "typical" of the sort of child porn charges normally seen by judges.

The court heard the offending took place when McCormack was drunk and would need to satisfy his sexual urges.

"Whenever he self-medicated, that is with alcohol, that was when he was most prone to engaging in this sort of behaviour,' Judge Conlon said, reading from defence submissions.

McCormack twice tried to take his life after he was arrested in April and in a suicide note to his family he wrote he could not "bear the shame and disgrace" and his "life should be his to take away".

In another note, his lawyer Sam Macedone said McCormack wrote: "It's not your mess I've created, it's mine."

The details of the police case against McCormack where revealed in disturbing detail when he pleaded guilty to the charges in September.

The police facts - some of which was too explicit to publish -exposed the conversations between McCormack and the WA paedophile.

McCormack used the name Oz4skinboi when he spoke to the man and introduced himself by telling him he loved "small, smooth hairless" young boys.

The conversations between McCormack and the man took place between April 30, 2015 and January 1, 2017 and were discovered by sex crimes detectives who were monitoring the WA paedophile.

McCormack confessed he favoured boys as young as seven because they had "perfect bodies" and was a "proud pedo, proud b lover".

In one message, on May 13, 2015, McCormack informed him he was "meeting up with horny dudes fri night ... U free to Skype with us? Over wot we love?"

The pair discussed what child porn material each had and what the best way to view it was.

He said: "I love boys so much".

On August 1 the two men talked about their desire for sex with underage boys. The unidentified male said: "Can't wait to have one for real ha."

McCormack answered: "They are so beautiful. I want to make love to one so badly."

More to come

andrew.koubaridis@news.com.au