A judge has dismissed charges against a Lyndon man accused of having child pornography on his work computer at Northeast Kingdom Human Services (NKHS).

On Dec. 18, Judge Robert P. Gerety Jr. dismissed the two felony charges of possession of child pornography and two misdemeanor charges of possession of child pornography against Matthew Coyne, 50.

Coyne pleaded not guilty to the charges in April of 2015.

 Caledonia Superior Court

Gerety ruled on a motion to dismiss, filed by St. Johnsbury defense attorney David Sleigh, which argued that prosecutors did not have the evidence to prove that Coyne “knowingly” possessed four images of child pornography on his work computer, according to the motion.

“The court concludes, based on the information presently before the court, that the State has not met its burden,” wrote Gerety in his decision. “There is evidence from which a jury could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there were images of child pornography located on Defendant’s computer. However, there is not sufficient evidence to support a reasonable inference by the jury that the Defendant knowingly possessed the images. On this essential element of the crime charged the State’s evidence falls short.”

Coyne was charged after NKHS Human Resources Director Mark Beattie contacted St. Johnsbury Police on Oct. 23, 2013 to report that child pornography had been found on Coyne’s work computer at 2225 Portland St., in St. Johnsbury.

According to court documents, the images were found in the Temporary Internet File (TIF) on Coyne’s work computer after he had reported a virus that had locked up his computer. Police said it was the third time Coyne’s computer had gotten this virus.

 Police said Coyne allegedly admitted going on his NKHS computer during lunch breaks and spending 20 to 30 minutes visiting porn sites. But he denied ever looking at child porn and said he did not know how it got on his computer.

In his decision, Gerety concluded that since TIF files are downloaded automatically when web sits are visited the state would need other evidence to prove Coyne knew the illegal files were there.

“There is not sufficient evidence to find or infer that the four TIFs relevant in this matter were created or placed on Defendant’s computer as the result of any conscious action on Defendant’s part, or that he had any conscious awareness that the four TIFs were located on his computer,” wrote Gerety.