A woman Ben McCormack interviewed for A Current Affair as ‘Australia’s thriftiest mum’ wrote a character reference for him saying she is ‘forever grateful’ the journalist came into her life.
The former Nine Network journalist, 43, was sentenced to a three-year good behaviour bond on Wednesday for two charges of using a carriage service to transmit child pornography material.
A letter from ‘Super Saver’ Wendy Gower – who McCormack filmed TV stories about ‘my family living on a budget’ between June and December 2014 – was included in the defence submissions considered by sentencing judge Paul Conlon.
‘I found his style of reporting to be very honest. I got along quite well with Ben and found his character to be pleasant, warm and kind, always making sure I was happy with the line of questioning and filming process,’ Ms Gower wrote, in the August letter where she said she was fully aware of the charges against him.
‘Super mum’ Wendy Gower penned a character reference for Ben McCormack
Ms Gower, left, and McCormack, right, worked on stories together in the second half of 2014
‘During breaks in filming Ben always included my family in wonderful conversations.
‘Ben and I also met interstate a few times to film stories.
‘He always greeted me warmly like a long-time friend. He made sure I was well looked after knowing I was away from family.
‘I observed Ben in many situations with the general public and found his character and integrity to be outstanding.
‘It is because of this, Ben will always be welcomed into my home. ‘I am forever grateful for Ben coming into my life.
‘His honest reporting on my family’s story had a positive impact on many Australians and others around the world’.
A vigilante attacked the former A Current Affair reporter with water and spit from a cup after leaving the Downing Centre
McCormack also received character references from his best friend, Dr Peter Manders, who revealed McCormack’s father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer which had ‘hit Ben hard’ over the past couple of years.
Dr Manders said McCormack was the first to admit he had an ‘aberrant attraction to children.’
‘I strongly believe nobody ‘wants’ to be a paedophile and definitely not Ben,’ the oncologist said.
‘Ben understands the magnitude of the charges and even before his arrest was desperately trying to change.’
Other references were from family friends, including Kevin Cocks AM. There were no references from his long-time employer, the Nine Network.
Police did not allege there any evidence of McCormack exchanging pictures or video showing children in pornographic poses, only words
The 43-year-old arrives to appear before District Court judge Paul Conlon for sentencing
McCormack is pictured reporting to the police station for bail for the final time on Monday morning
McCormack was charged in April for sending messages over Skype to West Australian Catholic primary school teacher Mathew Paul Reale.
In his messages, McCormack said how he ‘loved bs (boys)’ and described himself as a ‘proud Ped’.
His first offence was punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
However, during a sentencing hearing the judge described McCormack’s offending as at the ‘lowest’ end of the scale as the offending is not typical of the charge.
Police did not allege there any evidence of McCormack exchanging pictures or video showing children in pornographic poses, only words.
Skype chat buddy: Mathew Paul Reale, 30
Judge Conlon said many of the factors he had to consider in child porn cases – including whether a child had been exploited or treated cruelly – were not present in the 43-year-old journalist’s case.
‘I do not think it is an exaggeration to say his life has been destroyed,’ the judge said.
He finished his sentence by warning McCormack – who has twice tried to die by suicide – not to harm himself.
‘You’ve obviously received a very low point,’ the judge said. ‘From everything that I have read it would appear you have never harmed anyone.
‘And accordingly, I would not like to see you go forth and harm yourself’.
McCormack nodded. He remained composed throughout the sentencing.
Daily Mail Australia revealed the identity of the man McCormack spoke to as Mathew Paul Reale, 30, a Catholic primary school teacher from Perth.