Bernard Finnigan, the South Australian MP who was sentenced to 15 months of imprisonment for attempting to access child pornography, has avoided the jail term on a good behaviour bond.

The former MP was found guilty of committing the offence on Christmas of 2010 at his Sefton Park home in Adelaide. Within two days, he had announced his resignation. Finnigan was convicted of the offence on Wednesday and was handed over a suspended jail term of 15 months.

Judge Steven Millsteed said during sentencing that the future prospects of a political career for the former Labor government MP is very weak and that his colleagues have also severed all ties with him. He also noted that such behaviour encouraged "the vile degradation and sexual exploitation of children.”

According to the judge, Finnigan showed no sign of remorse and has refused to admit his mistake. Finnigan has now been included in the national sex offenders’ register. For the suspended jail term to take effect, Finnigan needed to sign a good behaviour bond of $1,000.

“It is not necessary for me to determine this issue because, even if I had such power, I would not exercise it in your favour,” Justice Millsteed was quoted by the ABC as saying when Finnigan's defense counsel asked to spare him the conviction.

The judge added, “Your offending was a serious breach of the law and people who access child pornography encourage the vile degradation and sexual exploitation of children.”

Finnigan had entered the search term “little teens” and clicked on links of child pornography, according to reports. Earlier, a suppression order on the search term used by the MP was repealed by the judge. He noted that the public should be aware that using such terms on the search bar can get them into trouble.

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