Three WA men in court over separate online child abuse cases

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and Western Australia Police.

Three men accused of possessing images and videos of children being sexually abused are all expected to appear in Perth Magistrate’s Court today (17 December 2021), after being charged by the Western Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team.

Police charged the men – aged 19, 45 and 46 – as a result of three separate investigations, launched after reports from the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about suspected WA residents uploading child abuse material to social media platforms.

Enquiries by WA JACET, comprised of Australian Federal Police and WA Police officers, allegedly linked the three men to email addresses or accounts listed in the NCMEC reports.

Australian Federal Police Detective Superintendent Graeme Marshall said demand for child abuse material sadly shows no sign of abating but police will never give up their fight to keep children safe, wherever they live.

The WA JACET charged 99 people with 492 child abuse-related offences last financial year (2020-2021). This is a rise from the previous year (2019-2020), when 94 people were charged with 230 offences.

The 46-year-old man was charged with possessing child abuse material accessed or obtained using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

Police officers took the man aside for questioning at Perth Airport when he returned from an intra-state work trip on 16 November (2021).

He was charged after they after allegedly found child abuse material on his mobile phone.

The 19-year-old Maddington man will appear in court on two charges after WA JACET investigators allegedly found child exploitation material and records of chat groups involving child exploitation material on mobile phones at his house.

A search warrant was executed at the man’s home on 25 November and he was charged with:

  • Possessing child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service , contrary to section 474.22A(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
  • Using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material to himself, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(ii) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The 45-year-old man was charged with two offences after police executed a search warrant at his Wellard home on 30 November and allegedly found child abuse material on his mobile phone.

He was charged with:

  • possessing possessing child abuse material accessed or obtained using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth); and
  • Using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1)(iii) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

The maximum penalty for the offences in these three cases is 15 years’ imprisonment.

A forensic examination of seized electronic devices is ongoing in each of these three matters.

Detective Superintendent Marshall said the AFP and its partners will continue to be relentless in efforts to identify anyone who seeks to harm a child, including those who view or trade abusive videos and photographs.

“There is a real child behind every photo or video distributed online. That child has been placed in the most horrific situation and is not just an image on a screen,” he said.

“Anyone who views this abhorrent content has a critical role in fuelling the industry that will abuse more children to satisfy the demand.”

Reports of online child exploitation nationally have surged in the past two financial years, with perpetrators taking advantage of COVID-19 lockdowns to access and share horrific content, and target children and young people spending an increasing amount of time online.

The AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation received just over 14,000 reports in 2018-19. In 2020-21, it was more than 22,000.

Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available.

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.

/Public Release. View in full here.