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

Vernon businessowner challenges community to display Pride

“A huge reason why I made this challenge for other business was to offer LGBTQ+ community a safe place to eat, chat, shop, and get your haircut”

Vernon RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

PHOTOS: Seaton grads head to prom

Festivities began with photos in Polson Park on Saturday, June 22

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and clouds

Environment Canada is calling for a chance of rain and risk of thunderstorms across the Okanagan tonight

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

Native of Saint-Lambert, Que., set a record for longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit, reaches 35-year lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

New river channel shuttle service in the South Okanagan

Company launches this Friday and offers services within City of Penticton limits

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from Vancouver furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Poll: Rising gas prices force B.C. residents rethink summer road trips

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

PHOTO: Moose cow and calf relax in Williams Lake flower garden

The homeowners got a surprise when they checked their most recent surveillance footage

Holi: Festival of Colours celebrated in the South Okanagan

Kismet Estate Winery, in Oliver, celebrated Holi with their guests last weekend

Small plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

The world’s Indigenous speakers gather in B.C.’s capital to revitalize languages

Organizers estimate about 1,000 delegates from 20 countries will be at the conference

Most Read