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Former music teacher William Colin Bennett misappropriated $40,000 from his own church to fund legal defence of child sex offences

A former music teacher fleeced his own church to the tune of $40,000 to fund his legal defence of child sex offences, a court has been told.
The Brisbane District Court was told William Colin Bennett, 81, was the director of the Valley Spiritualist Church when he signed over a house and land owned by the church to himself and used some of the funds raised on personal legal expenses.
The court was told Bennett believed he was entitled to steal the church's money.
Judge Fleur Kingham, in sentencing Bennett, said: "You (took the money in the belief you) were acting in the spirit in which the church had been formed."
Bennett was Wednesday sentenced to three-and-a-half years' jail after pleading guilty to one count of aggravated fraud and seven of idencent dealing with a boy at Brisbane and Toowoomba between 1979-81.
Prosecutor Jacob Robson said Bennett secured a mortgage on the property after he fraudulently obtained it and used $40,000, of $280,000 misappropriated, to spend on high-priced lawyers to defend him on charges for sexually abusing three music students in the 1970s and 80s.
Mr Robson said Bennett was again charged for molesting another music student, now an adult, when the victim read a newspaper report that the former teacher had been jailed for importing child pornography.
The Courier-Mail in March 2011 revealed Bennett, then aged 79, was jailed for 12 months, to be released after serving two months in custody.
Bennett was arrested after Australian Customs officers questioned him about child pornography found on his laptop computer after arriving in Brisbane on a flight from Norfolk Island.
Bennett on Wednesday pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and seven counts of indecent dealing with a boy at Brisbane and Toowoomba between 1979-81.
Mr Robson said Bennett had previous convictions for molesting four other boys, including three former music students, during the 1970s and 80s.
He said Bennett, when contacted by yet another student he molested, tried to explain his former behaviour by saying: "That was just the person I was back then."
Lawyers for Bennett spent a considerable period of time arguing he should not be locked up in prison by listing his numerous medical complaints.
They said prison authorities would not be able to ensure his on-going health or safety and that he would be much better suited to spending his time in the community caring for his elderly sick wife.
The court was told Bennett was keen to repay the money he misappropriated from his chuch, but with few assets and a fortnightly pension of $900, any repayments would be minimal.

The Courier-Mail (17-7-2013)
Tony Keim
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/former-music-teacher-william-colin-bennett-misappropriated-40000-from-his-own-church-to-fund-legal-defence-of-child-sex-offences/story-fnihsrf2-1226680731716


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12 months jail for 79-year-old child pornography importer

A 79-year-old Queensland man has been sentenced to jail following Customs and Border Protection investigations into the importation and possession of child pornography.
William Colin Bennett appeared in the Brisbane District Court on 8 March 2011 on charges of importing child pornography contrary to Section 233BAB (5) of the Customs Act 1901.
Mr Bennett was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, to be released after serving two months on a recognisance of $300. He was also sentenced to be of good behaviour for two years.
Customs and Border Protection National Manager Investigations Kingsley Woodford-Smith said the agency is committed to protecting the Australian community by detecting, investigating and prosecuting the importation of child pornography.
“This sentencing should serve as a reminder to all travellers of the very serious consequences of bringing this type of material in to Australia," Mr Woodford-Smith said.
“The importation and possession of material that sexually exploits children or depicts child abuse is a criminal offence.
“Anyone found importing or exporting child pornography material will be investigated.”
Customs and Border Protection officers detected the child pornography on 26 March 2008 when Mr Bennett arrived at Brisbane International Airport on a flight from Norfolk Island.
Customs and Border Protection officers stopped Mr Bennett for questioning and during the course of a baggage examination discovered material of concern located on his computer equipment. Mr Bennett’s lap top computer, an external hard drive and three USB flash drives were held.
The maximum penalty for the intentional or reckless importation or exportation of child pornography or child abuse material is $275 000 and/or imprisonment for 10 years

Customs and Border Protection Media Release (11-3-2011)
http://customs.gov.au/site/mediaRelease20110311_2.asp




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