American trucker nabbed at Osoyoos border crossing with child porn

Oregon man pleads guilty in Penticton and will now do the mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail, plus go on Canada's sex offender registry

Scales of justice

Scales of justice

What was meant to be a quick delivery in Canada has turned into an extended stay for an American truck driver caught at the Osoyoos border crossing with child pornography on his personal computer.

Sidney Byron Van Valkenburgh, 49, was sentenced Monday in provincial court in Penticton to the mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to possessing the material.

Once his time is served, he’ll be deported to the U.S. but remain on Canada’s sex offender registry for 10 years.

Court heard Van Valkenburgh, an Oregon resident, was en route to Osoyoos on Jan. 9, 2014, with a load of shingles when he was flagged for secondary inspection at the border crossing south of town.

On a laptop found inside the truck’s sleeper, a Canada Border Services Agency officer discovered hundreds of images of child pornography, plus four videos of girls exposing themselves on webcams.

Crown counsellor Catherine Crockett said the girls in the photos appeared to be between the ages of 11 and 14, and were shown in “modelling-type” poses.

“It wasn’t some of the more explicit — if I can put it that way — types of photos we’ve seen,” said Crockett.

Defence counsel John Stowell said his client, who doesn’t have a prior criminal record, was “absolutely dumbfounded” to learn the pictures were on his computer, since he thought he’d deleted them a year earlier.

Van Valkenburgh downloaded them, the lawyer explained, to satisfy a “curiosity” that later became a “fascination.”

Stowell said his client is like many men caught with child pornography who “don’t appreciate the harm that’s suffered by the children. . . until it’s brought to their attention.”

Van Valkenburgh, who lost his job as a truck driver and is retraining to become an aircraft maintenance technician, confirmed he now understands that harm.

“I’d just like to say I do realize the damage that occurs by exploitation,” he told the court, adding that downloading the material in the first place was a “horrible idea.”

Judge Greg Koturbash acknowledged as mitigating factors that Van Valkenburgh seemed remorseful, returned voluntarily to Canada to face the charges and suffered embarrassment as a result.

“That must be a horrible thing for you,” said Koturbash. “But it pales in comparison to the damage that occurs to the young children in the pictures you possessed.”