Home Australia Former North Sydney Girls High School IT worker Michael Mowbray learns his fate as his sickening online searches are revealed

Former North Sydney Girls High School IT worker Michael Mowbray learns his fate as his sickening online searches are revealed

by Elijah
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Michael Mowbray (right) pleaded guilty to possessing the use of the dark web to find child abuse material while working at North Sydney Girls' High School.

A former IT employee at a prestigious Sydney girls’ school searched the term “teen jailbait” on the dark web to find child abuse material depicting girls aged between 10 and 15, a court has been told.

Michael Mowbray was working as an IT officer at North Sydney Girls High School when he was charged with possession of child abuse material in November 2022.

He initially attempted to fight the charges, but revoked the plea and pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of child abuse material.

Dressed in a blue suit, Mowbray appeared at Manly Local Court on Wednesday, where a police prosecutor revealed the 30-year-old had searched for “teenage jailbait” to find the material.

The prosecutor argued that the former IT worker was “aware” of his criminality through his searches.

Michael Mowbray (right) pleaded guilty to possessing the use of the dark web to find child abuse material while working at North Sydney Girls’ High School.

After searching the dark web for the images using the TOR browser, the court was told he uploaded three images to his OneDrive account, which he accessed from his work computer at school.

The rest of the 198 images and 103 videos were located on the computer in his room and on a four-terabyte encrypted hard drive.

The court was told Mowbray named one of the files as “collection of extreme teen videos” and another folder as “shy British amateur teens home alone, fuck yay”.

The police prosecutor said the nature and content of the material was worrying as it showed girls as young as 10 who are not easily mistaken for adults.

Mowbray was caught while working as an IT support specialist for the prestigious school, working in a “help desk” at the library that offered support services.

The court was told he had a password-protected computer at the school that was accessed by a new administrator on November 22, 2022, who found the folder on the computer in Mowbray’s personal OneDrive account.

The principal was notified and contacted police immediately.

Two days later, a search warrant was carried out at his home, where the rest of the material was found.

The court heard Mowbray had uploaded three of the 198 images containing child abuse to a cloud drive to be accessed from a password-protected computer at the school (pictured).

The court heard Mowbray had uploaded three of the 198 images containing child abuse to a cloud drive to be accessed from a password-protected computer at the school (pictured).

Magistrate Robyn Denes said the material showed “very clearly vulnerable children”.

She said it was clear Mowbray knew what he was doing because he was accessing the dark web, which she said is an “indication” that it is something that “will not be easily accepted in the community.”

“He clearly wanted a particular type of image,” the magistrate said.

‘I accept it wasn’t entirely sophisticated… some of it was on OneDrive… most of the material was encrypted, there is a level of sophistication.

“Possession of child pornography is a callous and predatory crime.” The magistrate also noted that the crime is not without its victims, as it creates a market for the continued exploitation and abuse of children.

Ms. Denes said that once the images are online, “they are there forever.”

“These children will never be able to escape these images…imagine going through life knowing…that your children may encounter these images of you as a child,” he told the court.

“It’s horrendous… it’s not without its victims.”

Mowbray sat in the public gallery holding a book and chewing gum as the magistrate told the court his crimes were so serious he had no alternative to a prison sentence.

The remaining images and 103 other videos were located on Mowbray’s bedroom computer and a four-terabyte encrypted hard drive.

He did not react when Mrs Denes sentenced him to 18 months behind bars for the protection of the community and children.

She gave him a nine-month non-parole period, meaning he will be eligible for parole on November 20.

Sheriff’s deputies led Mowbray out of the courthouse and into the cells.

The magistrate also ordered the destruction of the devices with the material.

He was sentenced to 18 months in prison with a non-parole period of nine months, however, he applied for bail shortly after his defense indicated that Mowbray will appeal the sentence.

He was sentenced to 18 months in prison with a non-parole period of nine months, however, he applied for bail shortly after his defense indicated that Mowbray will appeal the sentence.

His defense attorney, George Costantine, indicated he would appeal the sentence and requested bail Wednesday afternoon.

Costantine told Magistrate Robert Williams he was confident his client would see “possible” success on appeal.

“I say that any district judge can come to a different opinion regarding the exercise of the sentence in relation to his prospects for rehabilitation and delinquency,” he argued.

He told the court his client had a supportive partner in the community and a job.

“His Honor would find that he could comply with bail and bail could be granted,” Mr Costantine said.

After evaluating all the information, Mr. Williams discovered that there was no alternative to a full-time prison sentence.

He rejected the bail application.

The appeal will be heard in the District Court in April.

NCA NewsWire revealed last year that Mowbray’s employment at the school ended shortly before his arrest, and a source said staff were asked to hand over their school-issued laptops to the IT department in the following days.

At the time, a Department of Education spokesperson told NCA NewsWire that the safety and wellbeing of students and staff was its top priority.

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