Former publisher pleads guilty

Kirkwood agrees to plea deal, to be sentenced later

Al Kirkwood was formerly the Barriere fire chief as well as publisher of the Clearwater Times and Barriere Star/Journal.

Tim Petruk – KTW

The former fire chief of Barriere has admitted he was in possession of child pornography last October when police seized computers from his home and offices.

Al Kirkwood pleaded guilty in Kamloops provincial court on Monday to possession of child pornography.

The 62-year-old, who had been Barriere’s fire chief prior to his arrest on Oct. 4, said nothing during the brief hearing, during which his lawyer, Michael Shapray, entered the plea on Kirkwood’s behalf.

Kirkwood, who had also served as the publisher of the North Thompson Star Journal and the Clearwater Times newspapers, agreed to a plea deal in which the Crown will proceed summarily, meaning the maximum sentence drops to two years in prison from 10 years and the minimum sentence is reduced to six months in prison from one year.

At the time of Kirkwood’s arrest, police said they executed four search warrants. Kirkwood had also been charged with a count of importing child pornography, but that allegation is expected to be stayed by the Crown after sentencing.

Police said the investigation into Kirkwood’s activities began in August after the RCMP received information from U.S. law enforcement officials. Mounties said there is nothing to indicate local children were “directly victimized by the accused.”

Kirkwood resigned from his post as Barriere’s fire chief on Oct. 7 after more than 20 years in the position. Black Press, which owns the newspapers he published, has said Kirkwood is no longer a company employee.

Lawyers are expected to meet on July 24 to set a date for Kirkwood’s sentencing. In the meantime, he will meet with officials to undergo a court-ordered psychological evaluation.

 

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