Retired QC jailed over child porn

Updated November 6 2012 - 3:19pm, first published April 23 2009 - 2:20am
DISGRACED: Neil Williams is led from court yesterday - having been told that his reputation was in tatters; his fall from grace complete.

A FORMER Victorian Queen’s counsel has been jailed for his role in a global internet child pornography ring smashed by Australian Federal Police six months ago.The Bendigo County Court was told yesterday the lengthy and once-distinguished career of Neil James Williams, 75, was over.“Your reputation is in tatters,” Judge Joe Gullaci said.“Your fall from grace is complete.”Williams, formerly of Newham, was sentenced to two years behind bars with a minimum of six months after pleading guilty to possessing, accessing and transmitting child pornography.The charges span a 12-year period and include more than 10,000 images, 250 videos and 1500 written text files.Judge Gullaci said the shocking content left his mind reeling.“That material by its depravity and deviances demonstrates the humiliation and degradation of innocent children, and is difficult to describe,” he said.The court was told the material depicted children as young as four, sometimes masked and bound.One video showed a five-year-old boy delirious and disorientated, hooded and bound to a chair.More than 1000 children are shown throughout the material, which includes rape and elements of sadism and bestiality. Judge Gullaci said the images and videos represented a “dark and sinister part” of Williams’ character.He said Williams’ career within the legal profession only compounded his offending.“You have made a significant contribution to the legal profession in this country (and) your distinguished career as a solicitor, barrister and author are well known,” he said.“You of all people knew the serious nature of your criminal conduct.” Williams retired in 2002, and is best known in legal circles for writing what remains “the bible” of Victorian civil practice and procedure, Civil Procedure Victoria. He lectured extensively on the topic at Melbourne and Monash universities for about three decades from the 1960s.Williams, a former Caulfield Grammar student who was supported in court by friends and family, showed no emotion as he was sentenced.The court was told publicity surrounding his case had been devastating, and Judge Gullaci acknowledged Williams’ time behind bars would be onerous.“Your age, background, occupation and type of offending mean you will serve any term of imprisonment in protection,” he said.Williams is expected to be released in October.