A central Labrador man who pleaded guilty to accessing child pornography after police found more than 2,300 images and 69 videos on his devices collected over a six-year period was sentenced to 15 months in jail in provincial court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Thursday.
Valance (Val) Oliver was taken into custody in St. John’s, where he had been living since he was charged in February 2019, to begin his sentence. He was given three days' credit for time he served in custody after his arrest, so he has 447 days left to serve. Following that, he will be on probation for three years.
He had been charged with four other counts of accessing child pornography, plus one count of possessing child pornography, but the other charges were withdrawn in exchange for the guilty plea.
Oliver is also prohibited for eight years from attending playgrounds, school grounds, daycare centres, public parks or swimming areas where people under the age of 16 would reasonably be expected to be present. He also isn’t allowed to communicate with people under the age of 16 unless under supervision or be a volunteer in a position of trust over children. Oliver has also been banned from using the internet except for work, educational or banking purposes.
Judge Rolf Pritchard said he had considered several factors when making his decision on the sentence for the 53-year-old.
A pre-sentence report was completed on Oliver, which Pritchard said described him as a person who had a childhood largely free from trauma with a close family, which changed when he was charged.
“He now describes himself as being essentially shunned by his family. He moved to St. John’s after he was arrested and now feels he cannot return to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which he regards as his home.”
Pritchard said Oliver’s son had not communicated with him in the last two years and had changed his surname.
According to the report, Oliver had suffered what was described as a breakdown in 2013 and began using drugs and alcohol frequently.
In addition to these charges, Oliver was also found guilty of sexual assault in 2017, which Pritchard said was an aggravating factor in the case.
The amount and nature of the child pornography was another, he said.
“There was a significant volume,” he said. “It did include minors as young as two or three and was fairly graphic and exploitative … and did take place over a relatively long period of time, 2013 to 2019.”
Pritchard said even though there were no allegations of distribution or production of child pornography and no identified victim, there is no doubt the demand for and viewing of child pornography leads to victims being exploited.
“This is not a victimless crime. These individuals have been robbed of their innocence and damage has been done to them, the effect of which is yet unknown,” he said.
Oliver is well known in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and is a former Santa Claus in the annual Christmas parade and communications professional who worked with the provincial and federal governments. He also owned a local media company that recorded local events and took school photos for students.
Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram