Longest-ever sentence for Saskatoon child pornographer with 'vile' collection

Philip Michael Chicoine has been sentenced to 12 years after pleading guilty to 40 counts of ​possessing, producing and sharing child pornography.

WARNING: This story contains details readers may find disturbing

Philip Chicoine, pictured at his brother's wedding in Saskatoon in 2012, admitted that he directed the real-time sexual abuse of children overseas using the computer program Skype from his parents' home in Saskatoon. (Michelle Berg)

Calling his crimes "horrendous," a Saskatoon judge sentenced a man to 12 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to 40 counts of ​possessing, producing and sharing child pornography.

Philip Michael Chicoine, 28, remained expressionless during his sentencing Tuesday in a Saskatoon courtroom.

He did not appear to make eye contact with his parents, who sat in the front row.

"His collection was vile," said RCMP Cpl. Jared Clarke, the lead investigator from Saskatchewan's Internet Child Exploitation Unit.

"It was some of the worst stuff I've ever seen. It caused nightmares, it caused me trouble dealing with my own kids at home," Clarke said, noting he sought counselling to deal with the images haunting him.
Cpl. Jared Clarke (left) and Crown prosecutor Lana Morelli read through the 30-page sentencing decision outside Saskatoon provincial court. (Don Somers/CBC)

Paying parents to abuse their children

Last spring, Chicoine admitted he paid and directed parents overseas to sexually abuse their children in real time using video streaming sites such as Skype.

In June, the Crown presented videos in court seized from Chicoine's computer. Many involved torture and bondage, with the victims' screams heard throughout the courtroom.

His victims ranged from infants to children 14 years old.

In the exchanges, Chicoine indicated he preferred children who cried during the abuse, complaining about the difficulties of finding "pedomoms."

'Unusual and significant violence against children'

He was found to have more than 580 unique videos and more than 4,000 unique photos. In total, 10,126 videos and 4,714 photos were in his possession, according to the Crown.

Chicoine admitted that he spent more than $20,000 over five years to pay for the online exchanges.

In her 30-page sentencing decision, Judge Vanessa Monar Enweani cited Chicoine's "unusual and significant violence against children," and the need to denounce and deter sex offenders.

Chicoine's sentence is the longest ever handed to a convicted child pornographer in Saskatchewan.

Judge urged Chicoine to seek rehabilitation

In March, Chicoine was arrested, put on suicide watch and segregated from the general population at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre.

Enweani recommended federal prison officials incarcerate him at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon.

She said Chicoine has no prior criminal record and has been assessed as a moderate-to-high risk for being charged or convicted of another sexual offence.
'Our job as ICE investigators is to save kids,' said Cpl. Jared Clarke. 'They were able to rescue nine children from one of the female suspects that we led them to out of this case.' (Don Somers/CBC)

The defence argued Chicoine felt remorse and empathy for his victims, noting he was previously ostracized and intimidated, both at school and at his workplace.

"I think there is hope for your rehabilitation," said Enweani.

Enweani ordered Chicoine to stay away from children for 10 years following his release, and to refrain from participating in any social network, online forum, or chat rooms. 

Chicoine texted children directly 

Prosecutor Lana Morelli said the investigation into Chicoine's case began on Valentine's Day this year, when police came across a single pornographic image uploaded to a computer address in Saskatoon.
'Twelve years goes towards atoning for the victims, said Crown prosecutor Lana Morelli, who noted up until now, the longest sentence for any child pornography offence in Saskatchewan had been five years. 'Hopefully this will serve some justice.' (Don Somers/CBC)

Chicoine was found to have texted children as young as 10 directly in Florida, Australia and Saskatoon. At one point, a 14-year-old texted him and said she might kill herself. Chicoine replied that he'd want her to film the suicide so that he could watch.

Knowing that we had live victims still at risk was tough.- Cpl. Jared Clarke, Internet Child Exploitation Unit

Morelli said police raided Chicoine's home while he was preparing to travel to the Philippines to engage in direct physical abuse with pre-teens and toddlers.

The Internet Child Exploitation Unit said children in the Phillipines were rescued last week as a result of the work done on this case.

"Knowing that we had live victims still at risk was tough," said Cpl. Clarke.

"It obviously pushed the envelope on us really having to work diligently and expediently to get the case put together as quick as we could," he said.