This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and Western Australia Police
A 48-year-old West Australian man accused of sharing videos online of children being sexually abused is expected to appear in Geraldton Magistrate’s Court today (Wednesday 22 April).
The man was identified after allegedly engaging in sexually explicit conversations about the abuse of young children with another person online, who was actually a covert investigator from the Australian Federal Police-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE).
Police allege the WA man was also distributing abhorrent videos of children being sexually abused and tortured on encrypted online messaging forums and allegedly hosted a group that was sharing child abuse material.
ACCCE investigators have been targeting offenders allegedly involved in posting, sharing and requesting child abuse material online and some of the groups they have monitored allegedly have more than 17,000 active members.
After allegedly identifying the 48-year-old man as the person they were conversing with, ACCCE investigators engaged the Western Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (WA JACET).
The WA JACET, comprising Australian Federal Police and WA Police Force investigators, tracked the man to the state’s Mid-West and executed a search warrant at his home yesterday (21 April).
He was arrested after officers allegedly found child abuse material on his mobile phone and details of an online account that matched those used to communicate with the ACCCE investigator.
The man has been charged with:
Using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); Using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); Possess child abuse material obtained from a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The potential maximum penalty for these offences is 15 years’ imprisonment.
A detailed forensic examination of two mobile phones is ongoing.
AFP Western Commander John Tanti said it was unimaginable that young children were being degraded and tormented to satisfy depraved predators.
“The impact of sexual abuse continues long after the images or footage are recorded and we are working tirelessly to identify and prosecute anyone involved in the exploitation of children,” he said.
“Obscene conversations, like those alleged in this case, are also classified as child abuse material and can normalise the harm of children.”
AFP Acting Commander for ACCCE and Child Protection Operations Paula Hudson said the ACCCE used a range of investigative techniques to detect anyone who preyed on children online, or accessed abusive content.
“The sharing of such images and videos serves to drive the harm of children and we are working hard to stamp that out,” she said.
“We want to warn offenders that they cannot stay anonymous online and the COVID-19 crisis has not shifted our focus from tracking down anyone involved in this vile behaviour.
“We also want to remind parents and carers to talk to children about the games, sites and apps they are accessing – particularly as they spend more time online – because ACCCE investigators have data showing online predators are taking advantage of social isolation restrictions to search for more potential victims.”
The ACCCE is committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and is at the centre of a collaborative national approach to combatting organised child abuse.
The Centre brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into child sexual abuse and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.
Members of the public who have any information about people involved in the possession or sharing of child exploitation material are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.
AFP National Media: (02) 5126 9297
WA Police Force Media: (08) 9222 1011
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