N.W.T. man sentenced to 3 years for possession of child pornography

Russ Jones was charged in 2020 after a lengthy investigation by RCMP and its Integrated Child Exploitation unit. A judge sentenced him to three years in custody Friday. (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)

Russ Jones was sentenced Friday morning to three years in custody for having over 1,000 images and videos of child pornography on multiple devices.

Jones, 56, was found guilty in December after a three-day trial.

Supreme Court judge Shannon Smallwood said in her decision Friday that she was accepting the Crown prosecutor's suggestion of three years, rather than the defence lawyer's submission of one year in jail — the lowest possible sentence for the child pornography offence — and spoke to the impacts of the materials on victims.

Crown prosecutor Morgan Fane previously submitted five victim impact statements from victims or family members of victims depicted in some of the images found on Jones' devices.

Those statements described feelings of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and hopeless thoughts as a result of their victimization.

Victims said their childhood was stolen, they felt they could "never escape" what happened and that they had ongoing fear of being recognized, knowing the images and videos could be accessed by anyone at any time.

"These are real children who are victims of sexual abuse inflicted by adults," Smallwood said.

In a pre-sentence report, Smallwood said Jones maintained his innocence.

While it's his prerogative to do so, she said, Jones does not acknowledge the part he played in the abuse.

Without demand, Smallwood said, there would be no need to produce and distribute child pornography.

She added that Jones lacks remorse and insight into his actions.

The court heard that Jones is a retired government worker, originally from Hay River, N.W.T., who has also lived in Pine Point, Yellowknife and Alberta. He has children who are now adults.

Following his release, Jones will be prohibited for five years from attending certain places where there might be children under 16. He's restricted from attending daycares, schools and community centres without the presence of another adult older than 19 who is aware of his conviction. He is also prohibited from being in a role of authority to children or in work of a volunteer capacity without supervision, and from communicating with children under 16.

Jones will be registered under the Sex Offender Registration Information Act for 20 years.