Saanich man faces charges for child porn, attempted luring

Undercover Vancouver officer on chat site helps nab suspect

A Saanich man faces three child pornography charges and a charge related to attempting to locate a minor to commit a sexual offence.

Norman Robert Lewis, 66, appeared in Victoria court on Sept. 23 on charges of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography and for communicating to arrange the abduction or sexual assault of a person under 16. His next court hearing is Dec. 3.

Saanich police arrested Lewis in August, and searched his house and seized his computers based on information passed on by the Vancouver Police Department’s counter exploitation unit.

Saanich police say earlier this year, Lewis allegedly transferred child pornography images to a person he was communicating with through an online chat room.

That person also allegedly agreed to arrange for Lewis to engage in a sex offence with a child, but that online chat partner turned out to be an undercover officer with the Vancouver police.

Saanich police Sgt. Steve Eassie said the charges are based on information gleaned from computers in Lewis’s home and from the undercover officer.

Eassie couldn’t release details on the volume of material allegedly on the computers or distributed through the Internet. “His personal computers are being closely scrutinized to determine what he had,” Eassie said.

A private company has been contracted to analyze the suspect’s devices, in co-operation with the National Child Exploitation Coordination Center.

The Vancouver Police counter exploitation unit has nine officers dedicated to investigating child pornography and child luring, and another nine officers in its technological crime unit to help track down child predators.

“We recognize, to the general public, that these allegations are shocking. We are extremely thankful for the information provided by the Vancouver Police Department which led to the arrest of this individual,” Eassie said. “We are pleased that our investigators were able to act on the information, intervene, and hopefully prevent other children from potentially falling victim to these heinous acts.”

Lewis doesn’t have a criminal record and no minors are known to be living in his house, Eassie said.

He was released on conditions that include not being around minors, not going to places where minors congregate, not possessing devices that can access the Internet and not possessing pornography.

The charge of communicating to arrange in the abduction or sexual assault of a person under 16 was enacted in 2012 as an expansion to the criminal code related to sex offences against children.

Eassie said Lewis is the first person on southern Vancouver Island to be charged with this specific offence.

It’s “extremely fortunate” the officer gained the trust and confidence of the accused, he noted.

“We don’t often receive information within the region of this type of offence. It is disturbing to consider people within this community are allegedly engaging in this kind of activity.”

editor@saanichnews.com