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Child porn conviction for former diplomat overturned

A former diplomat has had a child pornography conviction quashed on appeal, after a district court judge found a reasonable person with all the facts may not find the sexualised artwork offensive.

Police executed a search warrant in 2017 and seized 21 colour drawings from the home of Robert Michael Scoble, who had served as a deputy ambassador in Hanoi in the 1980s.

Dr Scoble, 70, was convicted in the NSW Local Court of possessing child abuse material last September but later appealed.

District Court Judge Robert Weber upheld the appeal and overturned the conviction. In finding Dr Scoble not guilty, Judge Weber said “The drawings the subject of the conviction are explicit and no doubt confronting to some people. The drawings show adolescent boys engaging in group sex at school and associated settings. The boys are partially dressed and some pictures show genitals, penetrative sex, use of objects and ejaculation.”

Dr Scoble, a UNSW university medallist and former president of Oxford’s student union, said he bought the images in the course of his work as a biographer. He was researching a book on Roger Peyrefitte, the French author of a novel “depicting chaste love between school boys at a boarding school,” Judge Weber wrote in his publicly available judgment.

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