Gerry Hawes, former Liberal party candidate for Simcoe North in the most recent federal election, has been sentenced to eight months of house arrest, a 240-day conditional sentence, as reported by Midland Today.
The 59-year-old from Orillia had already pleaded guilty at a previous court appearance to accessing child pornography, while a charge for possessing child pornography was dropped in his most recent hearing.
Hawes worked as a senior policy advisor with the provincial government for 12 years.
While the Crown had asked for a 90-day stint in jail, Hawes received only eight months of house arrest, along with 24 months of probation.
Hawes had his laptop seized during an OPP investigation, after images believed to be child pornography were traced to his Internet Protocol (IP) address. The court heard that children depicted in the images ranged from 10 to 17 years old.
Justice Angela McLeod wrote in her decision:
“I take judicial notice that were Mr. Hawes to be incarcerated, he would not receive any treatment or counselling in a provincial institution. If he remains in the community, he will continue with his psychiatric treatment. This serves to address the safety of the community in the long run."
“I find that the circumstances of this defendant and of his crime (such a low number of images) are indeed exceptional,” the judge stated.
As part of his conviction, Hawes was ordered not to access the internet except for work purposes, to which he stated, "I'm a writer, I hope to be able to do research."
Justice McLeod agreed that research would fall under work. However, Hawes is not to communicate with anyone under the age of 16.