By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A former Dandenong man has been jailed over multiple charges involving child abuse material of pre-pubescent children and infants.
Andrew Dierickx, 59, pleaded guilty to 12 charges at the Victorian County Court in Latrobe Valley including three counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child under 16 using a carriage service.
His charges also involved producing, transmitting and soliciting child abuse material.
Australian Federal Police seized a laptop, phone and storage card with images and videos during a raid of Dierickx’s home on 8 July 2021.
In sentencing on 16 June, judge Peter Lauritsen said the 61 electronic files depicted “very unpleasant” conduct, which was likely to cause long-lasting damage to the victims.
Born and bred in Dandenong, Dierickx was interested in children aged up to 13 years and “some well under that age”, the judge noted.
In several cases, Dierickx had chatted online with women who filmed naked infants for his perverse gratification.
A forensic psychologist diagnosed Dierickx with a paedophilic disorder and “moderate” risk of re-offending.
He told the clinician that it started when a link popped up on a chat site, and “one thing led to another”, Judge Lauritsen noted.
In Dierickx’s self-described “fantasy world”, the offending “felt exciting because it was illicit” and became an addiction.
He didn’t realise the harm to the children until police referred to them as victims, he told the psychologist.
According to the psychologist, Dierickx was motivated to get treatment, but still needed to understand the risk that he posed.
After his offending was discovered, the twice-married Dierickx lost his job.
He had previously worked as a Centrelink officer and a cook.
He was currently engaged to a woman in the Philippines, who he’d met in online chatting. Up until recently, he lived alone.
Dierickx had no prior convictions, pleaded guilty at an early stage, cooperated with police and expressed shame and remorse, Judge Lauritsen noted.
Judge Lauritsen said there were no exceptional circumstances preventing Dierickx from being jailed.
Dierickx was jailed for up to 56 months, including a non-parole period of 32 months.
He must report as a sex offender for the rest of his life.