Australia

Former SES volunteer Nathan Begnell described children as ‘eye candy’

A former SES volunteer allegedly sent a message about children at an Anzac Day parade being “eye candy” to another man, a court has been told. Nathan Begnell has been hit with 303 charges including the transmission and supply of child abuse material and running an “electronic service” to share the images.The 36-year-old, who was…

A former SES volunteer allegedly sent a message about children at an Anzac Day parade being “eye candy” to another man, a court has been told.

Nathan Begnell has been hit with 303 charges including the transmission and supply of child abuse material and running an “electronic service” to share the images.

The 36-year-old, who was living at Werribee, appeared via video link at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Mr Begnell, who was an SES volunteer, allegedly sent pictures of children at an Anzac Day parade to another man in 2018, Detective Cassandra Borg told the court.

“There’s so much eye candy,” one of the photo captions read.

Prosecutors opposed Mr Begnell getting bail and argued the case against him was “strong” and the charges were incredibly serious.

He is accused of being the administrator of a group on the encrypted Telegram messenger service where hundreds of images of young pre-pubescent boys were shared.

More than 1900 images were shared to the group Mr Begnell is accused of starting in March 2018.

The online group has around 450 members, but in June it became invite-only after police managed to gain access to it, the court was told on Tuesday.

But lawyer Sarah Lenthall said her client had a stable address, would be vulnerable in custody because of his Asperger’s syndrome and had no prior criminal history.

However, it was acknowledged he’d left a significant digital footprint police were able to trace, and magistrate Keiran Gilligan described the case against him as “overwhelming”.

The magistrate was also concerned evidence of other groups could be deleted if Mr Begnell was granted bail, but Ms Lenthall said her client would be willing to give up internet access.

A decision will be handed down on Friday.

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