A man who began sexually assaulting a girl when she was four, taking pictures and posting them online will remain behind bars.
Stephen Mark Castleden, 50, who pleaded guilty last December to possessing, making and importing child pornography, as well as the sexual assault, was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in jail, minus 20 months’ credit for time served. Nick Barber, Crown counsel, had sought a sentence between eight to 10 years and James Wright, defence counsel, sought between six and 12 years.
Images of the victim, whose identity is protected, were uploaded to a Russian website and the incidents took place over five years.
In his ruling, Judge R.D. Miller said Castleden’s actions were “despicable in the extreme.” Miller said the victim has been robbed of her childhood and, almost certainly, the chance at a happy life. The fact that Castleden filmed and shared the assaults was a further aggravating factor, Miller said.
When reading pre-sentence reports to recount Castleden’s statements, Miller said Castleden paid lip service when showing remorse and accepting his actions had destroyed the victim.
For the count of sexual assault, Miller sentenced Castleden to what amounts to 62 months in a federal penitentiary. For possession, making or publishing and distributing of child porn, Castleden received 38 months for each count, to be served concurrently.
Among ancillary orders, Miller ruled Castleden will be registered as a sex offender for life and will be forbidden from using the internet and or other digital networks for life.
Police arrested Castleden in May 2018, after executing a search warrant following a tip from Australian police. The search yielded the five devices, including two encrypted Blackberry cellphones, which contained 1,226 images of child porn and 681 videos, with 27 images and two videos of the victim.
Speaking after sentencing, Barber said it was a significant and serious case and the amount of jail time was appropriate.
“I think anyone else in Mr. Castleden’s situation would’ve gotten the same sentence. Thankfully these kinds of cases are not all that common, these kinds of serious cases. But when they arise, this is the kind of sentence you get, or higher sometimes,” Barber said.
Const. Shane Coubrough, a Nanaimo RCMP officer specializing in child pornography and sexual abuse files, said cases like this are difficult, but he is happy it is concluded and the family and victim can move on.
“I’m glad that the courts are finally imposing, what are lengthy and appropriate sentencing,” said Coubrough. “Those ancillary orders are tremendously beneficial to protecting the community and the kids.”
Wright couldn’t be reached for comment.