Soldier fined $1K and reprimanded for accessing porn on DND computer while on duty

A sergeant with the Canadian Armed Forces has been fined $1,000 and reprimanded after he admitted to accessing pornography on a Department of National Defence computer at the base in Oromocto while on duty.

2nd charge against Sgt. Brent Douglas Hansen of accessing child porn dropped prior to Oromocto proceeding

Sgt. Brent Douglas Hansen, 54, was working as a shift supervisor with the range control office at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown in 2014 when he used a military computer to access pornography. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

A member of the Canadian Armed Forces has been fined $1,000 and reprimanded after he admitted to accessing pornography on a Department of National Defence computer at the base in Oromocto while on duty.

A second charge against Sgt. Brent Douglas Hansen related to accessing child pornography was withdrawn prior to his court martial Wednesday at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown because of insufficient evidence.

Hansen, 54, dressed in uniform with the red sash of senior non-commissioned officers over his right shoulder and maroon patches of the 5th division, pleaded guilty to one count under the National Defence Act of "conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline."

The offence occurred between June 25, 2014, and Sept. 23, 2014, while he was a shift supervisor with the range control office.

Cmdr. Martin Pelletier, the presiding military judge, said during sentencing it was less about the pornography and more about compromising the security of defence computers.

Security is "an ever-increasing" problem, he said.

Hansen, who has more than 34 years of unblemished service, including tours in Bosnia, Haiti and Kabul, declined to comment following the hearing.

He saluted his defence lawyer before leaving.

Could face administrative review

Prosecutor Capt. Marc-Andre Ferron said Sgt. Brent Douglas Hansen could still face an administrative review and possible sanctions. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Hansen will continue to work, as he has since he was charged in November 2016.

But he could still face an administrative review and additional sanctions, which could include dismissal, said prosecutor Capt. Marc-Andre Ferron.

"The Canadian Armed Forces have very high standards of conduct and performance."

The judge said Hansen's job will expire in August, when he turns 55.

Defence lawyer Lt.-Cmdr. Brent Walden contends no further action is warranted.

"As the judge hinted at in his decision, viewing pornography is not a crime. The problem here is that it was done on a work computer during work hours."

Defence criticizes investigative service

Defence lawyer Lt.-Cmdr. Brent Walden said Sgt. Brent Douglas Hansen has continued to work since he was charged in 2016. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
Walden argued the second charge, of accessing child pornography, should never have been laid.

It was "withdrawn over a month ago now, and it's an example of why the Canadian Forces national investigative service needs to be more careful before laying charges that are extremely damaging to a person's reputation," said Walden.

The prosecutor argued the charges met the criteria when they were laid in 2016.

"Before a charge is laid we have a two-step test which we apply — reasonable prospect of conviction and whether the public interest requires that a prosecution be pursued," said Ferron.

But "in light of new information received … we arrived at the conclusion that we had no reasonable prospect of conviction."

He did not elaborate on what the new information was or when or how it was obtained.

Joint recommendation

The 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown in Oromocto provides full-time employment for approximately 4,500 military members and 1,500 civilians. It is the largest military facility in Eastern Canada. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Hansen faced a maximum penalty of dismissal with disgrace in Wednesday's judicial proceeding.

The judge followed the joint sentencing recommendation of the prosecutor and defence.

Neither side called any witnesses or evidence.

Aggravating factors, Ferron said, were that Hansen was in a position of trust and leadership, and that he accessed the pornography during work hours and on a DND computer.

Mitigating factors included Hansen's guilty plea, that this is his first offence and that he has no military conduct sheet.

The courtroom was full of members of the range control office and Hansen's prior group from the Royal Canadian Regiment. They declined to tell reporters whether they were there as supporters.

The judge did not permit reporters to live tweet from the hearing.

Court martials are relatively rare. The Canadian Military Prosecution Service handled 62 court martials across Canada last year.

With files from Catherine Harrop