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Liberal candidate avoids jail sentence for accessing child pornography

Gerry Hawes, the Liberal Party's candidate for Simcoe North in the 2019 federal election, has been given a 240-day conditional sentence and 24 months probation on charges of accessing child pornography.

The 59-year old would-be MP pleaded guilty, although charges were dropped following the sentencing Thursday.

Although the pornographic images were accessed by Hawes, police have been unable to identify if said photos were intentionally downloaded. The Welland Tribute reports that the children and adolescents in the images ranged from 10 to 17 years old.

Justice Angela McLeod has handed down a condition sentence on the basis of "his genuine expression of remorse" in addition to the “collateral consequences suffered by Mr. Hawes” since he was charged.

Hawes has sought counselling for depression since August. “I take judicial notice that were Mr. Hawes to be incarcerated, he would not receive any treatment or counselling in a provincial institution. If he remains in the community, he will continue with his psychiatric treatment. This serves to address the safety of the community in the long run,” she wrote in the decision. “I find that the circumstances of this defendant and of his crime (such a low number of images) are indeed exceptional.”

Hawes's lawyer, Mitch Eisen, added that his client, a former policy advisor with the Ontario government, has “lost everything” due to the conviction. “He has lost his job, the impact is huge, his whole life is destroyed.”

Hawes received over 31% of Simcoe North's votes back in 2019, a somewhat distant second to sitting CPC MP and Deputy Speaker Bruce Stanton's 43%.

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