REVEALED: How Rocky doctor was caught producing child porn
A ROCKHAMPTON doctor and a registered nurse have walked from court after sentencing over producing child exploitation material while the doctor was holidaying in Canada.
The case sparked international media interest along with national and Rockhampton region coverage.
Dr Stephen Peter Menzies Murray, 58, and registered nurse Helen Constant, 43, were sentenced in Rockhampton District Court today.
Judge Michael Burnett said Dr Murray and Ms Constant's behaviours were abhorrent.
The court heard the offending was detected as Dr Murray sat in an Air Canada aeroplane on October 1, 2018, that was flying from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in Canada.
A passenger witnessed an SMS on Dr Murray's phone saying "her little legs were spread wide".
The witness continued to observe Dr Murray converse via SMS with someone he referred to as "slave" and responded to him as "sir".
The court heard the SMSs included describing adult male sexual activities with an 11 or 12-year-old female, a child aged between five and eight, putting yoghurt on an 11 year old's genitalia and penetration with a child's genitalia.
The witness reported the activity to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who caught up with Dr Murray on October 3, 2018, and he was arrested.
Dr Murray participated in an interview with Canadian police, resulting in Ms Constant being identified as the SMS recipient.
Forensic analysis of Dr Murray's phone revealed a 900 word story titled "I get aroused by very young girls" written in Apple's notes app, in first person, about a stepfather grooming two girls and engaging in sexual activity with the eldest on her 11th birthday after getting her drunk.
Both Dr Murray's and Ms Constant's homes were searched by Queensland Police and 10 CEM images of two teenage girls partially clothed were found at Dr Murray's home. An iPhone and iPad were seized from Ms Constant's home.
The court heard Dr Murray and Ms Constant had worked together and were in a romantic relationship at the time of the offending.
Dr Murray pleaded guilty to one count of producing CEM between October 1, 2017 and May 1, 2018, and one of possessing CEM on November 22, 2018.
He had also pleaded guilty to a Commonwealth charge of producing CEM while overseas in December 2019. This replaced charges the Canadian police laid which were discontinued on January 14, 2020.
Ms Constant pleaded guilty to one count of producing CEM between October 1, 2017 and May 1, 2018.
Dr Murray's barrister Jeffrey Hunter said his client was still supported by his wife and three adult sons - two of which were in the back of the courtroom.
He said this offending, and his subsequent behaviour after his release from the 16 days in custody in Canada, highlighted that his bipolar disorder that he was diagnosed with in 2010 was undertreated.
"There's not the slightest evidence that his illness affected his medical practice," Mr Hunter said.
This diagnosis was on top of the post traumatic stress disorder Dr Murray suffered as a result of his compulsory military service in South Africa.
Mr Hunter said Dr Murray also had a "difficult childhood" due to "ill treatment at the hands of an abusive and narcissistic mother" and his stepfather participated.
He said his client had residual anger and guilt over his mother's death which occurred in an ambulance that he travelled in.
Dr Murray left South Africa with his family and relocated to New Zealand were he had a "successful" medical practice, undertook his Master of Business Administration and was the local prison's doctor.
Mr Hunter said Dr Murray's bipolar disorder resulted in him making "rash and foolish decisions" such as the ones at the time of the offending.
The court heard Dr Murray was hypermanic in Canada showing signs of increased sexual drive and inhibition plus decreased need for sleep. He had two more manic episodes after the offending - in March and October 2019.
Mr Hunter said the SMSs between the two defendants started 'lawfully' before Dr Murray started sending SMS that were intending to be outrageous and shocking.
The court heard neither realised the SMSs that had turned into "bizarre" sexual role play were illegal.
"That's the sort of risk taking behaviour his illness makes him prone to," Mr Hunter said.
The court heard Dr Murray had up until his sentencing, been allowed to continue practising medicine, with one condition - treat no one under the age of 18.
Mr Hunter said he rarely saw patients under 18 prior to this offending.
Ms Constant's barrister Jordan Ahlstrand said his client, a widow for more than 17 years, had lost her job as a registered nurse working at an aged care facility on January 31, 2020, due to this offending.
The court heard she lives in her own home and has a son.
Mr Ahlstrand said during an assessment after being charged, Dr Alan Keen diagnosed her with depression, general anxiety and high functioning autism which came as a surprise to Ms Constant.
She has since been attending psychotherapy sessions.
"The messages were private messages," Mr Ahlstrand said.
"They were not intended to be seen by others."
Judge Burnett said this case was unique and unusual, adding he had never sentenced anyone in his career for producing CEM for which the charge was based on SMS evidence alone.
"It was obvious to those that know (Dr Murray) that he has a maniac personality," he said.
Judge Burnett ordered Dr Murray to a three-year good behaviour bond with $1000 recognisance for the Commonwealth offence and 18 months probation for the production and possession offences.
Ms Constant was sentenced to a 12 month probation order.
Neither had convictions recorded.