Man sentenced for possessing child sexual abuse material

COLIN MACLEAN colin.maclean @JournalPEI



SaltWire Network

Prince County

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – A 29-year-old Summerside man has been sentenced to two years less one day in jail after a police investigation found tens of thousands of images and videos depicting child sexual abuse on his computer equipment. Donald Bradley Gillcash pleaded guilty on Jan. 5 to two charges, one for possessing the material and one for distributing it through a file-sharing computer program. Gillcash was sentenced on April 20 in provincial court in Summerside. According to the agreed statement of facts in the case, in 2020 the RCMP's Internet Child Exploitation Unit started an investigation into the local sharing of sexual material involving children. Material known to be illegal and with recognizable identifying data was tracked to a Summerside computer at Gillcash's home address. Investigators started surveilling that home's internet usage in January 2020. However, the investigation ran into technical problems and it wasn't until March 31, 2021 that officers were able to collect enough evidence to obtain a search warrant for the home. During the search, police found illegal video and image files on the accused's computer and an external hard drive. He was arrested on the scene and, after consulting with his lawyer, provided a lengthy confession to police. In it, he admitted to downloading the material and sorting it into various categories. He would typically search for material involving female children younger than 18. RCMP tech crime officers conducted a digital forensic analysis on the computer and hard drive but could only sift through a portion of the material because there was such a substantial volume of it. The statement of facts for the case did not provide a total number of pornographic files found on the hardware, but it did provide a breakdown of what investigators managed to go through. That included a total of 759,323 image files, 59,323 of which were determined to depict child sexual abuse. The total amount of video files was unclear in the document, but it did indicate it was a substantial number and 3,174 of those depicted child sexual abuse. In addition to the jail time, Gillcash must remain on probation for three years after his release from jail, provide a sample of his DNA to the national law enforcement database, be added to the sexual offender registry, forfeit the electronic equipment seized by police and is restricted in what interactions he can have with minors.