NT man charged with online child abuse and illicit drug offences

A Northern Territory man appeared in Katherine Local Court today (21 June) after being charged with illicit drug and online child abuse offences.

The man, 42, was arrested yesterday (20 June) after the Northern Territory Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (NT JACET), comprising members from the AFP and Northern Territory Police, executed a search warrant at his home in Katherine.

NT JACET began an investigation into the man after receiving a report from the United States’ National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about an online user in the Northern Territory accessing child abuse material online.

During the search warrant, investigators located a number of electronic devices including USBs, mobile phones and an SD card. Forensic examination of the electronic devices allegedly identified hundreds of images of child abuse material, a portion of which featured toddlers.

Police also located drug paraphernalia and illicit substances suspected to be cannabis at the man’s residence.

The electronic devices and suspected illicit substance have been seized for further forensic examination and testing.

The man was arrested and charged with the following offences:

  • One count of possessing child abuse material, contrary to section 125B(1)(a) of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT);
  • One count of possessing a dangerous drug less than trafficable quantity, contrary to section 7D (1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1990 (NT); and
  • One count of possessing item to administer dangerous drug, contrary to section 12(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1990 (NT).

The maximum penalty for the child abuse offence is 10 years’ imprisonment.

The maximum penalty for the drug offences is two years’ imprisonment.

The man was remanded in custody to reappear at Katherine Local Court on 19 August, 2024.

AFP Superintendent Greg Davis said the collaboration with Territory, Commonwealth and international law enforcement partners was crucial.

“The AFP and its law enforcement partners remain committed to protecting children from predators who attempt to hide their offending behind a screen,” Supt Davis said.

“Our message to online offenders is clear. No matter where you are, if you procure, access or transmit child abuse material, you will be found, arrested and prosecuted.”

Northern Territory Police Acting Superintendent Matt Akers said this type of behaviour has no place anywhere and anyone who views, distributes or creates this abuse material is committing a crime.

“We will continue to work closely with our interstate partners to combat child abuse in all its forms.”

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the 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. 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.

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 the ThinkUKnow website, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

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