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The Crown is seeking the longest prison sentence in Saskatchewan history for child pornography charges to be handed to Philip Michael Chicoine.
Crown prosecutor Lana Morelli argued at the conclusion of Chicoine’s sentencing hearing Thursday the Saskatoon man should be given a 17-year sentence with no chance of parole for seven and a half years.
The 27-year-old Chicoine pleaded guilty in April to 40 child pornography-related charges, including possessing and distributing child pornography, child luring and agreeing to make child pornography. While none of his charges included hands-on offences, Morelli argued his crimes are on par with hands-on abuse.
She said the content of Chicoine’s child pornography collection is at the high end of the aggravating range. During the first day of the hearing last week, Cpl. Jared Clarke with the Saskatchewan Ice Unit said it’s “the most depraved” collection he’s ever seen and it caused him to seek help outside of work.
When investigators searched Chicoine’s parents’ home in March -- he was living in their basement at the time -- they found devices with almost 5,000 different child pornography files. The devices contained videos and photographs of child pornography involving children, mostly girls, some as young as months old. Most of the girls were between four years old and 12 years old, and much of the content involved bondage of the children and violence against them.
“To be quite honest, there is nothing quite like this accused and his offences,” Morelli said in Saskatoon Provincial Court.
Court heard he paid $23,000 for images and videos and to facilitate and view the livestreaming child pornography. The majority of his payment -- $19,000 -- was sent to the Philippines. He met women in Romania and the Philippines online. He then communicated with them on Skype and told them how to abuse their children while he watched online. He would then take screenshots and save photos of the acts. He told one woman he was communicating with that he was planning a trip to the Philippines to abuse children. Morelli argued Chicoine was party to breaching a position of trust by offering money to the women.
"He paid poor women to abuse their children for his sexual gratification,” Morelli said.
Chicoine’s defence lawyer, Val Harvey, argued for a seven-year sentence and said mitigating factors include his lack of a criminal record, his guilty pleas, that he wants to seek treatment and his remorse.
“He feels genuinely sorry and he does want to convey that to the court,” Harvey said.
She said Chicoine cried when he heard a recorded victim impact statement from a woman who was abused as a child a decade ago. Chicoine watched videos of the abuse. The woman said it “sickens her to the core” knowing strangers are viewing her most horrifying moments.
“They are trading around my trauma like treats at a party,” the woman said in a recorded statement.
Harvey said there’s a difference between hands-on offending and the type of offending done by Chicoine. She said he’s remorseful for the impact the case has had on his family, who he is close with and who have attended court during the hearing. She told court his father said, “He’s a good son. Nobody can understand how he went down this road."
Harvey said Chicoine couldn’t articulate that answer to her. She said he is a quiet man who was ostracized at school and at work.
“He’s been alone a lot of his life,” she said, adding he doesn’t have many friends and has not been “part of the larger world.”
She said there are factors pointing to Chicoine possibly having Asperger’s syndrome and that he wanted to stop offending but didn’t know how.
Chicoine shook his head when given the opportunity to address the court.
Justice Vanessa Monar Enweani is scheduled to hand down her decision Sept. 21.
--- CTV was in court for the final day of the sentencing hearing: