Michael Gary Gilbert

BURTON, N.B. — A pedophile who was described by the Crown as a predator after he abused boys as young as four and made videotapes that were circulated on the Internet was sentenced Monday to more than 10 years in prison.

Michael Gary Gilbert, 40, of Tracyville, N.B., pleaded guilty earlier to 11 sex-related crimes against six boys, including sexual assault and making child pornography.

"You have done a great deal of harm to your victims and your community," provincial court Judge Alfred Brien said in handing down the sentence of 10 years and eight months in prison.

Brien gave Gilbert a sentence of 15 years but reduced the time because of a number of factors including the time he has already spent in custody since his arrest in January 2009.

Gilbert, who has long hair and a long beard, sat quietly in court, looking only at the judge.

He told a sentencing hearing three weeks ago that he's found God and is no risk to reoffend.

The Crown, though, described him as a predator who abused increasingly younger victims, including a four-year-old boy.

Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock argued an 18- to 20-year sentence was in order while the defence said case law indicated a prison term in the range of seven to 12 years would be reasonable.

Videos of the abuse ended up on the Internet and were seen by Brazilian police, who believed they were made in Canada and notified the RCMP.

The abuse took place between 1997 and 2009.

Gilbert told the sentencing hearing he prays daily that his young victims "find peace and healing."

"I am completely confident I am at no risk to reoffend,"' he told the court.

Gilbert claimed his efforts to deny and hide his homosexuality led to his sexual encounters with children.

Denying his sexual identity led to two failed marriages and thoughts of suicide, he said.

Lee Lamrock objected to Gilbert's claim that his sexuality had anything to do with his crimes, saying it does a disservice to gays and lesbians.

Outside court Monday, Lamrock said it was a complex case.

"I'm not aware of any similar case with this number of victims with images involved and this lengthy a sentence," she said. "It's certainly the lengthiest sentence in New Brunswick that I'm aware of."

Gilbert will have to provide a DNA sample and remain on the sex-offender registry for 20 years after his release.

Defence lawyer Howie Peters said the length of the sentence was no surprise.

"Judge Brien went through the range of sentencing and the appropriate case law, and Mr. Gilbert knew that. We're not at all surprised by the decision."

Const. Tonia Williams of the RCMP's Internet child exploitation unit in Fredericton said the investigation involved agencies around the world.

"Everyone putting their heads together, we located the offences that took place here in New Brunswick, which really helped narrow down who the suspect was," she said.

In total, police seized about 17,000 images of child exploitation and about 500 videos.