Tasmanian man charged over serious online child abuse offences

A Tasmanian man is scheduled to appear in the Hobart Magistrates Court today (13 June) after being charged for allegedly possessing and distributing graphic online child abuse material across several social media platforms.

The Tasmanian Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team (TAS JACET), comprising AFP and Tasmania Police Force, arrested the man, 23, yesterday (Wednesday 12 June) after investigating nine reports received from the United States National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

It is alleged the man uploaded and distributed child abuse material depicting toddlers and infants, across Snapchat, Discord, Dropbox, Telegram and Google Drive.

The TAS JACET linked the man to the alleged offending and executed a search warrant at his home in Berriedale on Wednesday, 12 June, 2024. During the search, investigators located and seized two laptops for examination.

Forensic analysis of the electronic devices allegedly identified hundreds of videos and images of serious online child abuse material.

The man was charged with two counts of possessing child abuse material obtained using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years’ imprisonment.

AFP Detective Sergeant Aaron Hardcastle said the investigation demonstrated the AFP’s commitment to investigating and charging alleged offenders suspected to be involved in child exploitation and sexual abuse.

“This arrest should serve as a warning that the AFP, together with our Commonwealth and state law enforcement partners, are dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse and bringing those who commit these abhorrent offences before the court,” he said.

“Our investigators are relentless in their pursuit of anyone sharing or accessing child abuse material and protecting our community’s most vulnerable – our children.”

Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Rob Blackwood said Tasmania Police continued to work closely with law enforcement partners both in Australia and internationally to investigate and prevent child exploitation, and bring offenders to justice.

“This is just one example of how our specialist investigators work with other agencies to disrupt criminal activity,” Assistant Commissioner Blackwood said.

“We take allegations of child sexual abuse seriously, and remain committed to protecting our most vulnerable community members from harm.”

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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