GUILTY: Former paramedic John Hinder returns to Hervey Bay court to hear the verdict in his trial.
GUILTY: Former paramedic John Hinder returns to Hervey Bay court to hear the verdict in his trial. Alistair Brightman

Disgraced hero

THREE years ago, John Hinder was saving lives and winning bravery awards in his highly respected job as a Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic.

Today he is a convicted child pornography downloader.

It took just two hours for a jury to find the former ambulance officer guilty of possessing child exploitation material and using a carriage service to access child pornography.

Hinder's laptop was found to contain 183 illegal images when police carried out a search of his Urangan home in 2009.

Some were of the "most offensive and outrageous kind", involving pre-pubescent kids performing sex acts, bestiality and images of children being held against their will, Hervey Bay District Court was told.

How did this man, who had no previous criminal convictions, plunge so spectacularly from honoured hero to depraved miscreant? One explanation, put forward by Hinder's defence barrister, was that an inquest into the death of one of his patients where his work was significantly criticised, sent him off the rails.

Hinder worked in Bundaberg as an intensive care paramedic and had been with the QAS since 1994.

Among many awards he received in this time was a bravery award from the Royal Humane Society in 2008.

Hinder could have been jailed for 10 years for his crimes, but yesterday walked free from court.

Judge Hugh Botting sentenced him to 15 months' jail with immediate release and a 12-month wholly suspended sentence.

It was his view that although the enormity of the offences warranted jail terms, they were out of character for Hinder, who'd been a "worthwhile" member of society for many years. It was also unlikely Hinder would reoffend, he said, due to the "utter humiliation".

Judge Botting told the court it was wrong to class downloading child porn from the internet as a victimless crime.

"Sadly there will be children, either in this country or others, who will be abused so these images can be provided for those who seek them," he said.



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