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This article was published 9/3/2011 (3873 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
He is believed to be the oldest child pornography collector ever caught in Manitoba. But 78-year-old Fred Skelton will likely avoid a real jail sentence because of his advanced age.
Crown and defence lawyers said Wednesday they are seeking a conditional sentence for Skelton, who was caught with nearly 4,500 graphic images of children as young as one year old being sexually abused by adults. The resident of Roseisle was arrested in 2007 after employees at a computer repair shop in Morden discovered some of the images.
Skelton initially claimed he was the victim of a misunderstanding and he was actually seeking out child pornography in order to assist justice officials. He told investigators he was bookmarking illegal sites to send to Cybertip.ca.
But his explanation was exposed as a fraud when a forensic computer examination showed he had been gathering the pictures since at least 1998 -- long before the national tip line for the exploitation of children even existed.
Skelton appeared in a Winnipeg courtroom Wednesday for sentencing on a charge of possession of child pornography.
Lawyers have recommended a conditional penalty of between six months and one year that would allow him to remain free in the community under certain restrictions.
Provincial court Judge Sid Lerner has reserved his decision to consider other sentencing precedents and legal authorities.
Skelton is not subject to a mandatory minimum jail term that currently exists in Canadian law because his charges predate the legislative changes. He has no prior criminal record and has been deemed a low risk to reoffend. He now blames his illegal acts on alcohol abuse, for which he has agreed to undergo treatment. His problem was highlighted by an incident where he showed up for a visit with his probation officer while drunk, yelling and swearing in the parking lot while students from a nearby junior high school walked by, court was told.
Skelton is divorced and currently lives alone in the community located about 75 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg. He is a former CBC broadcaster who spent about 30 years in television and radio. He now earns a living by making sculptures and oil paintings he sells online, court was told.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.