Editor’s Note: Images of the seized devices are available via Hightail.
A 67-year-old Melbourne man was yesterday (4 May 2022) sentenced to four months’ jail with a further 10 months’ suspended by the County Court of Victoria for accessing and sharing child abuse material.
The AFP Southern Command Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET) began an investigation in 2021 when the man was identified engaging in explicit conversations on a messaging application about his desire to sexually abuse children.
JACET officers executed a search warrant on 22 April 2021 at the man’s home in Melbourne, where they seized a number of electronic devices, including multiple mobile phones and a computer hard drive and arrested the man.
An examination of the devices revealed dozens of child abuse images and videos on a single mobile phone, as well as further conversations about sexually abusing children.
Detective Superintendent Simone Butcher said the sentence served as a warning that law enforcement was dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse and bringing those who commit these offences before the court.
“Our message to online offenders remains unchanged. If you procure, access and transmit child abuse material, you will be found, arrested and prosecuted,” Det-Supt Butcher said.
“This is not a victimless crime. Children are not commodities to be used for the abhorrent gratification of sexual predators.”
The man plead guilty to the following charges on 4 March 2022:
- Possessing child abuse material accessed or obtained using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
- Using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
He has been placed on the sex offenders register for a total of 15 years.
The AFP is also urging the public to help it solve cold case child abuse investigations through its Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object initiative. The smallest clue can often help solve a case.
The world-leading initiative, is centred on the publishing of non-confrontational images that can be seen in child exploitation online material such as pieces of clothing or bedding.
Australian investigators believe the images are linked to victims in the Asia Pacific Region, including Australia, and are calling on the community to view the images and make a report at www.accce.gov.au/trace
The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the ACCCE is at the centre of a collaborative national approach to combatting child exploitation and abuse.
The ACCCE 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 child exploitation and abuse are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online.
If you or someone you know are impacted by child exploitation and abuse, including sexual abuse and online exploitation, there are support services available.
Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found at ThinkUKnow, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.
Note to media:
Use of term 'CHILD ABUSE' MATERIAL NOT 'CHILD PORNOGRAPHY'
The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was among amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the gravity of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.
Use of the phrase "child pornography" is inaccurate and benefits child sex abusers because it:
- indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
- conjures images of children posing in 'provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.
Every photograph or video captures an actual situation where a child has been abused.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297