GEORGE NEWS - I'll probably commit suicide. If not I'll have to change my image completely. These were the words of a sexual offender when asked what he will do when he gets out of jail.
George Thompson*, a man in his 40s, was sentenced to eight years in prison after being arrested for the possession of thousands of images of child pornography. Although he thinks his sentence is "quite harsh", he's not denying that he victimised the children in the images.
He granted the George Herald an interview from behind bars at George Correctional Services on condition that his identity be withheld.
This is his story that forms part of a series of interviews journalist Kristy Kolberg conducted with sexual offenders behind bars. Next week the third interview will be published.
How it started
He doesn't have a concrete reason for his addiction to child pornography and says that his sexual preferences change all the time. "It's something different now."
He was 33 when he came across child pornography on a computer he was repairing for someone.
"I was fixing someone's computer and came across a folder with images and videos of child pornography. The folder also contained links to websites where you can download material.
"I looked at the images and downloaded thousands. I knew it was wrong and I should've asked for help, but I didn't.
"I looked at it when I was on tik. You see, tik gives you an immense sex drive so you either go out and look for it, or you stay at home. I chose to stay at home."
When asked if he was ever afraid of being caught, Thompson said that one becomes nonchalant towards the law when under the influence of tik and that he never really thought about the consequences.
Life in prison
"People aren't educated as to the severity of the crime or the punishment. Prison is an unsafe place.
"Although the cells are frequently searched and weapons are confiscated, people still get stabbed with self-made weapons or hit over the head with a lock. Weapons can be made from anything. The rooms are built for 20 people. Some of them have 40 to 50 inmates of which many sleep on the floor."
The origin of the material
"Some photos were taken in very rich-looking foreign homes, others in war-torn countries where children are kidnapped, sometimes by soldiers, or their parents are killed and the children are taken into captivity to use as sex slaves. Child pornography also plays a role in human trafficking," he said.
During his sentencing the magistrate described the images found in his possession as gruesome and graphic.
As a teenager he spent a lot of time in places of safety and children's homes where, according to him, he was beaten, bullied and assaulted. He says he wasn't sexually assaulted by his peers but he does have a vague memory of being raped by a family member at a young age.
"I can't tell you if it's a dream or reality that my mind is just blocking. I really don't know."
Later in his life he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
"Educate your children about the use of the Internet and realise what behaviour it might lead to. Illegal things are freely available.
"Don't take or post naked photos of your children on social media. Don't even let your young child walk on the beach without clothes on. You don't know who is watching or taking photos. Watch how you dress your children," he said.
* George Thompson is a pseudonym.
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