Operation Arkstone offender sentenced

A 30-year-old Lismore man linked to an international online child abuse network has yesterday (16 December 2021) sentenced to two years and nine months imprisonment by Lismore District Court.

The man charged under Operation Arkstone was arrested at his home in Goonellabah in August 2020 when police seized an electronic device found to contain child abuse material.

The man pleaded guilty to eight offences in March 2021, including possessing child abuse material and using a carriage service to make available, access, transmit, advertise and solicit child abuse material.

He has a non-parole period of 12 months and will be eligible for release in December 2022.

The man has been sentenced as part of Operation Arkstone, an AFP-led, large-scale child protection operation.

The nationwide operation was launched in February 2020 when investigators from Eastern Command Child Protection Operations arrested a 30-year-old Central Coast man for child abuse offences. The arrest followed a referral to the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) from the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The digital trail from that first arrest in February 2020 has to date identified 55 child victims in Australia, who have been removed from harm. Twenty-two Australian alleged offenders have been charged with 1303 offences.

AFP Constable Emily McFarlane said the reach of the global online child abuse network uncovered in Operation Arkstone is shockingly widespread.

“With each Operation Arkstone arrest, we identified more alleged offenders and sadly more children to be saved from further harm,” Constable McFarlane said.

“We’re leaving no stone unturned and are continuing to share intelligence with our counterparts across Australia and around the world to stop child sex offenders from exploiting and harming more children.”

US Homeland Security has been integral in identifying the online network of alleged child sex offenders, which has now resulted in three arrests in the United States. Investigations in the US are continuing.

Members of the public who have information about child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.

You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available, visit the ACCCE to learn more.

Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protection children online can be found at ThinkUKnow, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

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