IT WAS a life of happiness, travel and good fortune for Desley Lodwick until she opened an email that changed everything.
When the Aussie businesswoman, who ran a $7 million IT venture with her husband, innocently opened his laptop, nothing could have prepared her for what she saw.
The couple were staying in a Montreal hotel in June 2003 when Dr Lodwick opened the emails that revealed her husband's dark side, she told ABC's 7.30.
"I saw the history of what he had been visiting," she told the show.
"There were some weird names ... and a website for RSVP, but RSVP for children in Russia and he was about to go to Russia."
The trail revealed a sick history of child exploitation images and violent material - including information about how to kill your wife and eat her.
Numb, but worrying for the safety of her young relatives, Dr Lodwick copied everything she could from the offending laptop to a hard drive and stored it in a bank safety deposit box.
What she uncovered was sickening.
Her husband had stocked thousands of illegal child exploitation images, which she went through to ensure none of her friends' or family's children were in the photos, ABC reported.
"It was horrendous," she told 7.30.
"I don't tell people much about what I saw because if I did they would have to deal with it. It would change people.
"As soon as I realised what he was interested in, the marriage was over."
Despite this, she kept blaming herself for what happened.
"I made myself a victim by asking what it is about me that would have me marry a man like that," she said.
"That is what I kept asking myself instead of getting angry at him.
"After running a multimillion-dollar company and having many different properties in Melbourne and in America, I found myself without a job, without a home, without a partner.
"I lost everything. I was left virtually homeless."
She told the ABC she wanted to report her ex-partner to police but had to ensure she was safe first.
"I couldn't stop thinking about the little girls and the abuse they'd suffered," she said.
"Six times I tried to report him, twice to the AFP [Australian Federal Police], twice to the FBI, once to NSW police and once to Victoria Police and no one would even meet with me.
"Who knows why they didn't take me seriously. I was really careful not to be overbearing, I was careful to be rational.
"Perhaps they thought I was a hysterical ex-wife, I don't know."
If was after she called Child Wise, a child abuse prevention organisation, in 2006 that the AFP looked into her complaint and agreed to intercept her former husband when he came back into the country, she told 7.30.
When he returned to Sydney, he was stopped at the airport and police found 75,000 child exploitation images of children on his laptop.
The ABC also found court documents which reveal he had numerous emails sent over a 10-day period in which he had discussed gaining access to children in Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Costa Rica for sex.
The man was sentenced to six and a half years' jail for seven counts of importing child pornography and four counts of encouraging sexual intercourse with a child under 16.
Detective Inspector John Manley from the Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team told 7.30 that lessons have been learned since the case.
"Police should have probably known how to handle it but obviously there are some people who don't," he said on the show.
"You've got the cyber element to it, of course, too, and in the early 2000s that was something that baffled a lot of police.
"How do you do an investigation that involves technology? That was a real issue for police then, it's not so much an issue now."
If you need help dealing with a partner or family member viewing child exploitation material, contact PartnerSPEAK.
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