Grant Roeland

Former RDCK treasurer jailed for child porn offences

Grant Roeland is serving a 19½-month prison sentence after admitting to possession and distribution of child pornography.

The former chief financial officer of the Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary regional districts is serving a 19½-month jail sentence after admitting to possession and distribution of child pornography.

Grant Roeland, 59, was arrested at his home in Warfield on Sept. 20, 2013 after Trail RCMP received a tip from the BC child exploitation unit. Police seized two laptops and two hard drives that contained 508 images and 428 videos that met the definition of child pornography.

Roeland was charged with six offences and released on bail. However, on Jan. 8, 2015, he was arrested again on a breach of recognizance for possessing computer equipment. He didn’t seek release and has remained in custody since.

Although he initially elected trial by judge, Roeland pled guilty on April 2 to one count of possession of child porn and another of possession for the purpose of transmission. He also acknowledged violating his bail conditions.

At the time of the offences, the first count carried a minimum sentence of six months in jail and a maximum of five years while the second count had a minimum of one year and maximum of 10 years. Crown counsel sought a prison sentence of two years less a day, while the defence asked for 15 to 18 months.

In passing sentence in Rossland Provincial Court on June 11, Judge Richard Hewson said Roeland was born and raised on a dairy farm in Manitoba and has two daughters with his now-ex-wife of 32 years. Roeland studied engineering at university and after working in that field, became a certified general accountant in 1996 and was employed by local governments in Alberta and BC.

He was chief financial officer of the Regional District of Central Kootenay in Nelson from March 2007 until March 2013 when he accepted the same position with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary in Trail.

RDCK chief administrator Stuart Horn said they learned of Roeland’s arrest shortly after it happened and searched his work computers but found nothing inappropriate. The RDKB didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Hewson said at the time of Roeland’s arrest, he had been in an online chat room with an undercover police officer. He used a peer-to-peer network where people share pornographic images by exchanging passwords that allow them to access each other’s folders. Roeland provided his password to 150 users.

During the sentence hearing, the courtroom was temporarily closed to the public so the judge could view what the Crown and defence agreed was a “representative sample” of the images and videos found on Roeland’s computers. They included boys and girls who appeared younger than five and none who appeared older than 12.

“The children in the videos and images are anonymous,” Hewson said. “I don’t know their names, but I’m sure they each have one. They exist somewhere in the world. They either know or will know when they’re older that images of their abuse are being shared by people who enjoy their suffering. Child pornography is not a victimless crime.”

A psychologist’s report found Roeland is a low to moderate to risk to reoffend in possessing child pornography but a low risk for direct sexual offences against children or others. Court heard that while Roeland violated his bail conditions by having a computer, he didn’t use it to access child porn.

The judge said he considered the fact Roeland had no prior criminal record, pled guilty, apologized in court, and wasn’t involved in producing child porn as mitigating circumstances. But he weighed that against the age of the children involved, the size of Roeland’s collection, which was “readily and easily distributed,” and the “scenes of depravity” it contained.

“Given that he decided to forego counselling, and the lack of any indication that he understands why this crime is treated so seriously, his guilty plea and apology cannot be given great weight as an indication of remorse or evidence of insight,” Hewson said.

Hewson sentenced Roeland to 18 months in jail on each count to be served concurrently and 1½ months for the breach of conditions to be served consecutively.

He gave Roeland time-and-a-half credit for his five months in pre-sentence custody, leaving the total amount of new time to serve as one year. Roeland was also placed on three years probation and isn’t allowed to be alone with anyone under 16 without a probation officer’s permission.

Roeland was further ordered to provide a DNA sample, placed on the national sex offender registry for 20 years, and is banned from accessing the Internet for 10 years.

Crown counsel stayed the four remaining charges.

Through much of the proceedings, a court-ordered ban prevented publication of Roeland’s name.