Even the most hurried of searches for John Aster on the internet will bring up a plethora of websites and videos with often conflicting and/or confusing information about him. Despite all that there is to read about John, there are really only three questions that need to be answered:
- Is it true, as his detractors claim, that John Aster is a "convicted pedophile"?
- Is it true that Aster is a "convicted rapist"?
- Is it true that he "plead guilty to downloading 15,000 child porn images"?
If the answer to the above questions is 'Yes', and Aster's guilt is clear and obvious, then one should have little sympathy for him. If however the answer is 'No', then Michelle Stewart, Melanie Coutts, Pete Geary, Jody Ashton and John Hans Anderson (collectively 'Team Troll') along with a host of others who have taken part in the vilification of Aster for the last nine years, ought rightly to pay a hefty price for a deliberate, serious, and sustained attempt to destroy an innocent man's life.
And so the hunt for information began. Try as I might, I failed to find any evidence for the first two of these claims - they appeared to pop right up out of nowhere. When asked, the men responsible for much of the distribution of the claims were unable to point me in the direction of any evidence of the claims. Thus, herein are my conclusions about them and the basis for those conclusions.
The claim that John is a convicted pedophile can be easily proven or disproven. Pete Geary has maintained for almost ten years that John Aster was the 39 year old Arana Hills (Brisbane) man with alleged links to a child pornography network (who shared images of the rape of a Russian girl aged 8). The story was reported at News.com.au on August 7, 2009. To this day, and as recently as April 2018, Geary has propagated the spread of this information via the internet and through various video and social media channels. The problem with this claim is that Geary knows it to be false. Don't be mistaken about what I just said - Pete Geary KNOWS this information is NOT TRUE. He made a wild assumption when the information first came to his attention, and then has refused to back down from his initial public accusation about John Aster ever since. How do we know he knows it isn't true? Simple. The story at News.com.au named the Arana Hills offender - "Charles Andrew Milne, 39, of Arana Hills". Even if Geary hadn't read the article himself (although we know he did), he was told by others that the man he was accusing was not the offender. Tina Byrnes told him herself - and here's a screenshot for that. Here's the rest of the conversation, and the reason we know Geary knows the accusation to be a lie. He quotes the article! So for almost ten years (to date), Pete Geary has been knowingly accusing an innocent man.
Whether or not John Aster is a "convicted rapist" also stands or falls on the facts. It is a simple enough matter to determine. A National Police Certificate is a document that lists an individual's disclosable court outcomes sourced from the databases of all Australian police jurisdictions. Certain convictions, such as spent or juvenile convictions, may not be disclosed on a National Police Certificate in accordance with the legislation and policies of the various police jurisdictions. This is a process that involves all Australian police services. Disclosable court outcomes include charges and court convictions (including the associated penalties and sentences), findings of guilt with no conviction, court appearances, court orders including good behaviour bonds, matters waiting for a court hearing, and traffic offences. On 21 January 2011, two years after the beginning of the rumour that John Aster had convictions for sex offences, he obtained such a Police Certificate at Brisbane. The certificate verified that John George Aster had no disclosable court outcomes, making this rumour also untrue. There has never been any evidence provided in support of this accusation from Pete Geary and John Anderson, making it likely that they know it to be untrue.
Once Aster made the Police Certificate public, Geary then altered his accusation to say that the guilty plea resulted in a non-conviction. However after a plea of guilty is entered or if there is a finding of guilt following evidence being called, the magistrate or judge will then proceed to sentence the offender. Usually, a non-conviction is only available for offences on the lower end of the scale and to offenders who have no prior criminal history. Whether a sentence is made with or without conviction, the offender will still have a criminal record. This is because a finding of guilt has been made against the offender. The Police Certificate will still show findings of guilt with no conviction, so again Pete Geary has knowingly lied to his followers.
The third allegation of 'Team Troll' is that John Aster plead guilty to downloading 15,000 child pornography images in 2000, and this was possibly the hardest of the three allegations to get to the bottom of. If this is true then surely somewhere out there would be evidence of a guilty plea - or more obviously, a conviction. After all, these are child sex offences or objectionable material offences. They don't just disappear, do they? There was clearly going to have to be a bit of logical reasoning to drilling down into this allegation, and the first thing to do was to isolate exactly what was being said. I listened to John Anderson's S.T.O.L.E.N. video with Pete Geary to eventually isolate this statement: "John Aster...plead guilty to downloading 15,000 child porn images". The components of the statement are
- That John plead guilty
- That he plead guilty to downloading objectionable material (images)
- That he plead guilty to downloading 15,000 images.
What the images were is not the relevant part of the statement - but we know that Geary alleges they were child pornography. I have never seen any direct evidence for the basis of the allegation if it does exist - but then a lot of what is written about Aster is as confusing as the concept of Schrödinger's cat to the uninitiated. I could not help but recall the 'no disclosable outcomes' certificate mentioned above, and I noted to myself that anyone convicted of crimes relating to child sex offences generally has serious restrictions placed upon them thereafter. Obviously, jail being one. Why, if there was a guilty plea, was there no apparent record? Because we live in a society where the legal maxim is "innocent until proven guilty" (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11), the burden of proof for these allegations must lie with the accuser. Therefore, I need go no further than Michelle Stewart, Melanie Coutts, Pete Geary, Jody Ashton and John Anderson to view the evidence. Or so I thought. As it turns out, none of them have any. They are all relying upon a cycle of hearsay that seems to begin with Coutts. Melanie posted on Facebook (under the pseudonym of Samantha Gratwick) that she had "sighted evidence that points towards Mr Aster being charged for having over 1500 images of child abuse in his possession by his own omissions [sic]." She had published a blog about it as well, and her Facebook post was likely just a plug for her now-defunct blog. What she meant with her comment was that Aster had allegedly plead guilty when images of child porn had been found on a computer belonging to him. There were two things that struck me immediately about Melanie's statement: firstly, that she had only seen evidence that "pointed towards" Aster having made such an admission, and secondly that she did not have direct evidence of Aster having downloaded anything himself. Her evidence in support (as per screenshot) is not an admission of downloading porn per se - merely that it was found on his computer. Sound like semantics? Perhaps, but the presumption of innocence demands we pay attention to the difference. The general thrust of the conversation is indicative of someone who was genuinely frightened and was being pushed to plead guilty by other parties under threat of 12 years imprisonment. That is a far cry from an admission of guilt. Then there is the desperately outrageous misappropriation of Melanie's information by Pete Geary et al. With no evidence at all to point to, he simply did some quick 'creative manipulation' from Melanie's accusation and 'Bingo!' - Melanie's "1,500" became "15,000" overnight! I have to say, I sure wish stocks and bonds did that.
So, what's John's version of the story? He denies that he was responsible for downloading the images, and confirms that he has no convictions (which is also confirmed independently by the Police Certificate). He maintains complete silence in relation to all other questioning, which I can understand given the last ten years of abuse he has suffered through.
So let's do a quick summation of the questions and their answers:
- Is it true, as his detractors claim, that John Aster is a "convicted pedophile"? - MYTH BUSTED - It's not true.(John does not have any convictions, and he is not a pedophile)
- Is it true that Aster is a "convicted rapist"? - MYTH BUSTED - It's not true.
- Is it true that he "plead guilty to downloading 15,000 child porn images"? - in three parts, namely:
- That John plead guilty - It's true that John plead guilty to something, but nevertheless he has not been convicted of any criminal act.
- That he plead guilty to downloading objectionable material (images) - MYTH BUSTED - It's not true.
- That he plead guilty to downloading 15,000 images - MYTH BUSTED - It's not true.
Herein lies the unfettered truth. We can safely say in relation to Geary's allegations that John has no convictions. Split off from the emotive and argumentative overabundance of internet commentary by self-appointed Facebook 'experts' in such matters, the facts of the allegations against John Aster are actually surprisingly simple to comprehend. They are the exaggerations and insinuations (and outright lies!) of a core few, spread faster and further than a virulent strain of the 'flu by an unsuspecting crowd of ignorant carriers. Will we ever truly know the reasons why? Perhaps, someday we shall.
Their motives are discussed on a different page.