HomeBreaking NewsFormer Labor adviser ‘weaponised’ autism, court told

Former Labor adviser ‘weaponised’ autism, court told

Summary

Benjamin John Waters, 38, has pleaded guilty to accessing and transmitting child abuse material, and to possessing child exploitation material.In the District Court on Friday, clinical psychologist Robyn Freeman was called to give evidence about her diagnosis of Waters with autism spectrum disorder and severe anxiety.She told the court she maintained her opinion that Waters did not have a sexual interest in children and his involvement in an online chat group was an example of wanting to fit in.“He is an intensely lonely man,” Ms Freeman said.“To me it has always seemed he is more interested in a connection with the people involved in the group, that he had a need to belong.“It was more a social relationship, part of being in a club.”Examples of the conversation initiated by Waters included discussions about travelling to Asia to have sex with children and talking about abusing one of the group’s nephews.Ms Freeman said the images of child exploitation material found on his computer could be explained by Waters’ obsessive need to know more about what the other men were talking about.“If that’s what someone with ASD is interested in, they will dedicate their time to it,” she said.Ahead of his sentencing submissions Waters prepared a lengthy affidavit explaining his offending in detail.When he took the stand to argue he wasn’t sexually attracted to children, Waters referred the court at times to his affidavit and at other times declined to answer questions.Jeff Powell, for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, said Waters had been evasive during his testimony to the court.“Mr Waters was focused, he understood the questions that were asked of him, he was someone capable of thinking tactically,” he said.“His refusal to answer straight forward questions had nothing to do with ASD, it was stubbornness.“The repeated deferral to paragraphs in his affidavit was an example of this.“He found a way to step aside from having to deal with these topics. He weaponised it.”Waters, 38, of Adelaide, faces a maximum 15-year prison term having pleaded guilty to accessing, transmitting and possessing child abuse material.The charges arise from Waters’ involvement in an online pedophile ring led by Australia’s worst-ever child sex offender, Jadd William Brooker.In seeking a home detention sentence, Waters has blamed both a co-accused and a “computer glitch” for his crimes and insisted he has no sexual interest in children.Prosecutors, however, have revealed Waters viewed child abuse material via an encrypted app while at work and referred to himself as “a proud pedo babe”.The hearing will resume before Judge Ian Press next week.

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