NT Man Charged With 21 Child Abuse Material Offences

A Northern Territory man is expected to face the Katherine Local Court today (Monday 20 May, 2024) charged with multiple alleged child abuse material offences.

The investigation began after the AFP received more than 20 separate reports from the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about an Australian-based user uploading child abuse material online.

The Northern Territory Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (NT JACET), comprising of police members from the AFP and Northern Territory Police, took carriage of the investigation and charged the man, 50, on 21 February, 2024.

The Pine Creek man was arrested after investigators allegedly located child abuse material on his mobile phone while executing a search warrant at his home. The mobile phone was seized for forensic examination.

The man initially appeared in the Katherine Local Court on 22 February, 2024, charged with:

  • Two counts of soliciting child abuse material using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
  • Two counts of transmitting child abuse material using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of possessing child abuse material accessed or obtained using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
  • One count of using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The man was remanded in custody to reappear in the Katherine Local Court today (Monday 20 May, 2024).

Further forensic examination of the man’s mobile device allegedly identified he was transmitting and soliciting child abuse material via the Telegram application.

The man has since been charged with an additional 15 offences.

They are:

  • Seven counts of soliciting child abuse material using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • Eight counts of transmitting child abuse material using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for each of the offences is 15 years’ imprisonment.

AFP Superintendent Gregory Davis said the AFP and its state, Commonwealth and international law enforcement partners remained committed to protecting children and bringing anyone who harmed them to justice.

“This is not a victimless crime. Children are not commodities to be used for the abhorrent gratification of sexual predators,” Superintendent Davis said.

“Our message to online offenders has not changed – if you procure, access and transmit child abuse material, we will find you, and you will be prosecuted.”

Northern Territory Police Force Detective Sergeant Mark Cronin said this type of behaviour is completely reprehensible.

“This investigation shows the importance of multi-agency operations working together to apprehend offenders such as these who pose a serious risk to the vulnerable in our community.

“The Northern Territory JACET will continue to work with our national and international partners to keep the community safe.”

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation 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.

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