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Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

A Terrace man convicted of possessing child pornography has lost his appeal after a judge didn’t buy his argument that someone else could have downloaded the graphic photos onto his iPhone.

Marcus John Paquette – a father, avid hunter, and registered forest technologist – was charged with one count of possession of child porn in July 2016 after the social media platform Tumblr advised the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a user was uploading pornographic images to its site, according to court documents published on Tuesday.

The Vancouver Police Department was able to track the IP address of the uploaded photos to Paquette’s home, where local RCMP conducted a search warrant and found his iPhone 3GS in a cupboard. A desktop computer, iPad, laptop and second iPhone were seized as well.

Police ran two different software programs to unlock the contents of the seized technology. They found “several hundred” images and videos of child porn that were downloaded between November 2015 to July 2016. They also found a folder containing internet addresses with “child pornography‑related terms” on the iPhone 3GS, which was backed up to his laptop.

ALSO READ: Squamish firefighter charged with possession, distribution of child pornography

Paquette, now aged 57 or 58, was found guilty in May 2017. He was sentenced to one year behind bars and ordered to be placed on the National Sex Offender Registry.

Earlier this month, he argued at the B.C. Court of Appeal that someone else could have downloaded the photos, even though his phone had a passcode lock, and that the trial judge, Justice Robert Punnett, didn’t adequately take this into consideration.

The photos were stored on an app called iZip, which is used to open .zip files. That app was downloaded using Paquette’s email address and password connected to his Apple Store ID, according to an expert Crown witness.

At the initial trial, Paquette’s ex-wife said she had used the phone when she travelled to Peru in January 2016, and that their young daughter used it to play games and watch movies before the trip. She denied ever having seen the child porn and said she did not downloaded it nor see her husband looking at it.

The court also heard that two Facebook users had attempted to log in to the app on Paquette’s phone.

“I find it highly improbable that a person would have the inclination and opportunity to download a large volume of child pornography onto a password‑protected iPhone which they did not own and likely would not have regular access to and to store that material in a manner in which it was readily accessible to the owner of that iPhone,” Punnett wrote in his decision.

He also determined Paquette must have known the iZip files existed, because the app was organized on his iPhone screen so that it was next to an app called BuckHunter, which was likely used frequently given Paquette’s interest in hunting.

On Nov. 12, Justice Barbara Fisher of the appeals court agreed with Punnett and rejected Paquette’s bid.

“In my view, the trial judge did not misapprehend the evidence, drew inferences of fact that were available to him on the evidence, and did not reverse the burden of proof,” Fisher wrote.


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ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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