NSW man sentenced for sharing child abuse material with teenage girl

A Marsfield man has been sentenced to two years and nine months’ imprisonment for online child abuse offences, including engaging in a sexualised conversation with a teenage girl on a social media platform.

The man, 27, was sentenced at Downing Centre District Court today (30 May, 2024) for two offences relating to possessing and accessing child abuse material and indecent communication to persons under 16 years.

The AFP arrested the man on 20 February, 2023, after he was stopped by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers at Sydney International Airport.

Following an examination of the man’s mobile phone, ABF officers identified deleted child abuse material and a sexual conversation with a 15-year-old girl. The AFP was alerted and an investigation began.

When questioned by AFP officers, the man claimed he could not recall taking part in the indecent communication with a minor but admitted he would meet strangers online and obtain their phone numbers to spark up a friendship.

He further denied having a sexual interest in children and told officers he was having a fun conversation .

A police review of the online conversation revealed the man encouraged the minor to engage in sexual activity.

He pleaded guilty in December, 2023 to:

  • Use a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to persons under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.27A(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • Use a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The man was sentenced to two years and nine months’ imprisonment and will be released immediately on a $500 four-year good behaviour bond.

AFP Detective Superintendent Peter Fogarty said the AFP, along with its law enforcement partners, was dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse and bringing those responsible for these offences before the courts.

“The AFP is committed to identifying and prosecuting all offenders who sexually exploit children, wherever they live,” Superintendent Fogarty said.

“This outcome should serve as another warning that law enforcement has zero tolerance for child exploitation in any form.

“We will continue to work closely with our international partners and AFP members offshore, to combat international organised child abuse and apprehend these vile offenders.”

ABF Superintendent Mal Nimmo said investigations such as this highlighted the importance for agencies to work together to stop any potential exploitation of those most vulnerable.

“Protecting our children, and ensuring those who seek their harm are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, will always be a top priority for the ABF,” Superintendent Nimmo said.

“These aren’t just images on a phone – these are real scenarios which we need to eliminate from our society, anyone who accesses this material generates a demand for others to create the content.”

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) is driving a collaborative national approach to combatting child abuse.

The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

Members of the public who have information about people involved in child abuse are urged to contact the ACCCE at www.accce.gov.au/report. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.

If you or someone you know is impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation, support services are available at www.accce.gov.au/support.

Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety. Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found at www.thinkuknow.org.au, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

/Public Release. View in full here.