A Plettenberg Bay man's 15-year jail term on 18 644 counts of possession of child pornography, was reduced to 10 years, on appeal, in the Western Cape High Court on Friday. William Beale was sentenced in the Thembalethu Regional Court in November 2017 after pleading guilty following his arrest for being part of an international syndicate, according to News24.

He was found in possession of thousands of horrific images, as well as dagga. Beale, who was arrested in January 2015, initially faced 107 893 charges. He pleaded guilty and the state withdrew the remaining charges.

On Friday, Judge Elize Steyn and acting Judge Fred Sievers agreed that the numerous counts should be taken together for the purpose of the sentence but that 10 years was more appropriate and proportionate given different factors.

'The disparity is such that this court is entitled and obliged to interfere,' she said. The judges considered the sentences in comparable matters, the seriousness of the crimes, Beale's personal circumstances, the purposes of sentence, the balancing of mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and the interests of the community, children and their protection.

They said the numerous aggravating circumstances in the matter were obvious.

'He regarded the downloading from the "dark web" of the pornographic images as a challenge and appeared to be proud of the fact that he was able to access locked sites, which he could only do by himself first supplying images of a shocking nature, to show that he could be trusted,' the judgment read.

Steyn and Sievers noted that Beale's sentence was one of the highest imposed in SA on charges related to possession of child pornography.

The appeal court considered an element of mercy, in view of the history of abuse Beale suffered when he was younger.

Full News24 report