Man who conned children over the internet to send explicit photos handed seven-year prison term

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Kevin Martin

Child abuse charges, including convincing a U.K. preteen to send him sexually explicit photos by posing as a young girl, has landed a former Calgary man a seven-year prison term.

Justice Earl Wilson handed Michael Christopher Love that sentence on Friday in connection with six charges involving internet luring, and making and possessing child pornography.

Wilson convicted Love, 26, in January after the Grande Prairie resident admitted the evidence the judge ruled admissible against him was sufficient to warrant a conviction.

His then-lawyer, Yoav Niv, and Crown prosecutor Aurelie Beland provided a statement of agreed facts based on evidence gleaned during the investigation, which started with a report to the constabulary in Suffolk, England.

Calgary police were alerted to a child luring crime by officers in the U.K. after the father of a 12-year-old boy found a disturbing video on his son’s iPad on Dec. 10, 2018.

In pre-trial motions, Niv had challenged the admissibility of incriminating evidence but conceded the case after Wilson ruled against him, preserving Love’s right to appeal.

Wilson said a mitigating factor in Love’s favour was the way his lawyer conducted the trial.

“The young English boy and his father were not required to testify,” the Court of Queen’s Bench judge noted.

According to a statement of agreed facts, read in by Beland, the offender lured the British boy for more than a year.

“Between Nov. 1, 2017, and Dec. 20, 2018, Mr. Love engaged in online communications with (the victim) a young boy in the United Kingdom, requesting sexually explicit images and videos,” Beland told Wilson.

She said Love, then 23, knew he was communicating with a 12-year-old and “created a fictitious persona of a young girl to initiate communication and continue corresponding with the young boy.”

During their chats, Love was able to persuade the child to send him sexually explicit photos and videos that constituted child pornography.

A subsequent investigation of Love’s electronic equipment following his arrest by Calgary police determined he used the same ruse to communicate with other children between 11 and 16 years of age, Beland said.

“Mr. Love portrayed himself as a young girl between 12 years old and 15 years old.”

Police also found close to 50,000 images and more than 8,700 videos of child pornography on Love’s electronic equipment.

The child pornography depicted mostly males, with the victims ranging in age from infants to approximately 16 — the bulk of them boys between eight and 14 — and included sexual acts between adults and children.

Original Article: https://calgaryherald.com/news/crime/man-who-conned-children-over-the-internet-to-send-explicit-photos-handed-seven-year-prison-term