Sydney police officer messaged ‘love them’ after being sent child abuse videos by Catholic priest on WhatsApp, court hears
A senior Sydney police officer allegedly responded “love them” and “very funny” after being sent child abuse videos by a Catholic priest, a court has heard.
- It’s alleged child abuse videos were sent to the police officer by a Catholic priest
- Senior Sergeant Peter Hanna has denied possessing the material
- His lawyer told the court it could have been saved in his images folder without his knowledge
Peter Hanna, 50, was stood down from his role as senior sergeant of NSW Police Metro Wireless Network Services in June last year, without pay, after he was charged and pleaded not guilty to possessing child abuse material.
The court heard one of the videos included a couple having sex in front of a toddler while the other clip showed a boy’s genitals.
NSW Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have continued their case against Mr Hanna despite Commonwealth prosecutors last month withdrawing all three child abuse charges against Father Josef Kolodziej, a priest who worked at All Hallows Catholic Parish in Five Dock.
During final submissions on Tuesday, DPP Prosecutor Lisa Stueckradt told the Liverpool Local Court hearing that videos were sent by Father Josef to Mr Hanna via encrypted chat service WhatsApp between January and March 2021.
Ms Stueckradt told the court that one of the videos, depicting two young people engaging in sexual intercourse, was offensive to a reasonable person.
“Your Honour will comfortably find that both persons are, or appear to be, well below the age of 16,” Ms Stueckradt said.
A second video was described by the prosecution as “voyeuristic” in nature depicting a “very young child”, partially clothed, in the same room as two adults having sex.
A witness had given evidence that she “felt sick” when Mr Hanna showed her part of the video, Ms Stueckradt said.
Mr Hanna’s barrister, Troy Edwards, told the court the material could have been saved in his client’s images folder without him being aware of it, which he said is a setting option in WhatsApp.
“Your Honour really has no direct evidence he had knowledge or possession of it,” Mr Edwards told the court.
Mr Edwards said his client responded, “very funny” and “love them” to a string of messages from Father Josef, a general answer which did not specify whether he was aware of the illegal videos among the other content.
He said he doubted whether some of the children were underage, reminding the magistrate he had to be convinced “beyond reasonable doubt” to convict Mr Hanna.
The judgement was adjourned until May 9, with Mr Hanna’s bail continued.
Father Josef’s charges, which included possessing child abuse material and two counts of using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material, were withdrawn by the DPP on March 2 at Burwood Local Court.
He was stood down from his role at All Hallows Catholic Parish and will have to apply to the Office of the Children’s Guardian before he can again work as a priest.
The Children’s Guardian said it could not comment on Father Josef’s situation for privacy reasons.
A Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions spokesman told ABC News: “After a careful review of the material in the Kolodziej matter and a consideration of the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth, the charges were discontinued.”
The NSW Department of Public Prosecutions has been contacted for comment.