Former B.C. fire chief gets seven months for possession of child porn

The 63-year-old pleaded guilty during a brief hearing last year to one count

  • Jan. 18, 2018 1:55 p.m.

By Tim Petruk – Kamloops This Week

A man described in court as a former pillar of the Barriere community was ordered Thursday to spend seven months in prison after admitting to possessing child pornography, including a number of images of children as young as five involved in sexual acts.

Al Kirkwood, the North Thompson town’s former fire chief who also served as the publisher of community newspapers in Barriere and Clearwater, was taken into custody by deputy sheriffs following an hour-long hearing in Kamloops provincial court.

READ MORE: Former publisher pleads guilty (May 9, 2017)

The 63-year-old pleaded guilty during a brief hearing last year to one count of possession of child pornography.

Search warrants were executed by police on Oct. 4, 2016, at Kirkwood’s Barriere home, as well as the town firehall and the offices of the North Thompson Star Journal and the Clearwater Times.

Crown prosecutor Frank Caputo said child pornography — still images and videos — was found on three devices seized from Kirkwood’s home. Some showed children posing with their genitals exposed and others depicted oral sex involving both other children and adults. One video described by Caputo showed a six-year-old girl performing oral sex on an adult male.

“This wasn’t simply exposure,” he said. “There are actual sexual acts being depicted. This isn’t just at the lower end because there is more than just exposure.”

Defense lawyer Michael Shapray said Kirkwood has shown remorse since the offense.

“Mr. Kirkwood lived an exemplary life,” Shapray said. “He was a community figure — a pillar.”

Court heard Kirkwood spent 23 years as Barriere’s fire chief after working for a time as the town’s grocer.

“For someone who gave everything to his community, the destruction of his reputation, his family’s reputation and everything he’s built up is complete,” Shapray said, noting Kirkwood’s Barriere home was the target of a vigilante arsonist after news of his charges became public.

“He’s someone who will have to live with that, by his own conduct.”

Shapray said Kirkwood attributed some of his offending to post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered following the devastating 2003 fires in the North Thompson Valley. But, Shapray added, Kirkwood holds himself responsible for his actions.

“He’s embarrassed by this,” Shapray said. “He’s remorseful and he accepts responsibility.”

Kamloops provincial court Judge Marianne Armstrong acknowledged Kirkwood has suffered “almost crippling shame and humiliation,” but held that child pornography is “a cancer” to society.

“It is a horrible, horrible crime,” she said. “It involves, essentially, the abuse of children for the satisfaction of others.”

In addition to the time behind bars, Armstrong placed Kirkwood on an 18-month probation term with orders barring him from visiting parks, playgrounds and pools. He will also be prohibited from owning a smartphone and can only access the internet under the supervision of his wife.

For 10 years, Kirkwood will be barred from working or volunteering in any role that puts him in a position of authority over children. He is also required to register as a sex offender for a decade and must submit a sample of his DNA to a national criminal database.

Just Posted

Fries, gravy, cheese and goodwill: Victoria hosts Poutine Week

Buy one of the varying versions of this traditional dish and help feed hungry kids

Saanich homeless camp to voluntarily leave provincial land by Tuesday

‘If the province really wants to pick a fight with us, we may end up in John Horgan’s backyard,’ says camp leader Chrissy Brett

Victoria lawyer urges B.C. law society to make pro bono work mandatory

Resolution says justice system is “at a crisis level” in B.C.

Surge in requests for help, reports of sexual assault since #MeToo

Growing demand for Victoria Sexual Assault Clinic’s services in first year of #MeToo

Pumpkin patch proposal takes engagement to new heights

Flyover of ‘Will you marry me’ written in pumpkins

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Black Press to host extreme career fair in Victoria

The fair will run on Oct. 25 at the Bay Street Armoury

POLL: Will legalization change your habits towards marijuana?

Marijuana is set to become legal across Canada on Oct. 17. Is… Continue reading

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Matheson will have NHL hearing after Canucks rookie Pettersson hit

The 19-year-old Swedish centre appeared woozy after the hit

GUEST COLUMN: A better way to manage B.C.’s public construction

Claire Trevena responds to Andrew Wilkinson on NDP union policy

B.C. brewery creates bread beer from food waste

The brew aims to raise food waste awareness and provide funds for the food bank

Dad files Charter challenge after B.C. bans kids from taking transit unsupervised

Adrian Crook is taking his fight to B.C. Supreme Court

Most Read