This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police, South Australia Police and Australian Border Force
A 66-year-old man accused of ordering live-stream child abuse is due to face Adelaide Magistrate’s Court today (Friday 10 April) after a South Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team investigation.
SA JACET will allege the man viewed, instructed and recorded 21 separate incidences of Live Distant Child Abuse between May and October 2019.
He allegedly communicated with people overseas to procure several children – suspected to be as young as three – to produce and transmit the abhorrent sexual activity, which he watched from his Adelaide home.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is working with its international partners to identify and rescue the child victims shown in footage that was allegedly found stored on electronic devices owned by the man, as well as other alleged offenders.
SA JACET arrested the man yesterday (Thursday 9 April) after a digital forensic examination of two USBs he owned.
The data storage devices were among items seized by police in February 2020 after the man was stopped at Melbourne Airport when he returned on a flight from Singapore.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officers allegedly found child abuse material and explicit conversations on his iPhone when they searched his luggage.
SA JACET will allege analysis of the man’s financial records show he transferred more than $15,000 to various people in South-East Asia and Africa.
Two of these transactions were allegedly recorded after he was stopped at the airport in February.
Police are continuing to examine a mobile phone, travel and financial documents and handwritten notes/letters seized from the man’s home yesterday.
The 66-year-old is expected to appear in court via video-link charged with:
- 12 counts of accessing child pornography using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.19(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
- 5 counts of accessing child abuse material using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
- 4 counts of obtain child pornography material outside of Australia, contrary to section 273.5(1)(i) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
- 2 counts of procuring sexual activity (other than sexual intercourse) with a child outside of Australia, contrary to sub-sections 11.2(1) and 272.9(2) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
- 1 count of accessing child abuse material using a carriage services, in circumstances of aggravation, contrary to section 474.24A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
The maximum penalties for these offences range from 15 to 25 years imprisonment.
The man is also facing charges of possession of child abuse outside of Australia and importing Tier 2 goods, which were laid after his arrest at Melbourne Airport.
AFP Assistant Commissioner for the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) and Child Protection Lesa Gale said offences against children are increasing and international borders are no hindrance to predators.
“It is why the partnerships that Home Affairs agencies; the AFP, ABF and the ACCCE have formed – nationally and internationally – are critical to our efforts to protect children no matter where they live and prosecute everyone involved in this unimaginable and repulsive crime,” she said.
“It is heart-breaking that vulnerable children are being degraded and injured to satisfy predators and the impact of this abuse continues long after the images or videos are recorded.”
Assistant Commissioner Gale warned that authorities are already seeing an increase in demand for child abuse material as predators spend more time online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We believe predators will be trawling online for potential new victims as children also spend more time online – often with limited adult supervision,” she said.
“We urge parents to talk to their children about what apps and sites they are visiting to help keep them safe.
“We also want to assure the community that we remain focused on combatting child exploitation, despite the challenges created by COVID-19,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said.
Detective Superintendent Mark Wieszyk, OC Public Protection Branch of the South Australia Police said law enforcement is working together.
“The SA JACET is a dedicated team of investigators that work closely together to combat child exploitation. The members of the team work tirelessly to keep children safe and from being exploited,” he said.
ABF Regional Commander, Craig Palmer said that disrupting the distribution of child abuse material remains a key focus for the ABF.
“We’re committed to playing a leading role in identifying persons of interest and stamping out the movement of this sickening material across the border,” Commander Palmer said.
“Our officers are extremely effective at targeting criminality at our border and alert to the indicators that persons may be travelling with abhorrent material.
“Anyone with information about individuals coming through border with illicit material, including child exploitation material, should report it to Border Watch at australia.gov.au/borderwatch. You can remain anonymous,” he said.
SA JACET is a joint agency taskforce comprising the AFP and South Australia Police’s Public Protection Branch.