The Queensland Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (QLD JACET) has charged a 55-year-old Brisbane man with 44 offences in relation to the alleged sexual exploitation of children both online and while he was travelling in the Philippines.
The man is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning to answer these charges.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) QLD JACET investigators began inquiries into the man’s online activities in September 2019, after he was formally arrested and charged by Australian Border Force (ABF) Investigators with importing child exploitation material pursuant to section 233BAB of the Customs Act 1901.
Following examination of the man’s phone and laptop, investigators allegedly uncovered evidence the man had engaged in sexual activity with children in the Philippines after communicating with them from Australia via social media apps.
In November 2019, the AFP referred intelligence from the QLD JACET investigation to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC). The PICACC is a collective law enforcement effort to combat child exploitation across the Philippines and comprises the AFP, Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation, the United Kingdom National Crime Agency and International Justice Mission.
On 10 December 2019, as a consequence of this referral, a PNP investigation resulted in the rescue of five victims of online child sexual exploitation in the Visayas region of the Philippines.
Members of the QLD JACET issued the man with nine Notices to Appear (NTAs) on 11 February 2020, relating to a total of 44 offences, as a result of his alleged conduct in Australia and in the Philippines, including:
- Eight counts of soliciting material using a carriage service, the material being child pornography material, contrary to section 474.19(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
- Eighteen counts of prepare or plan an offence against this Division, contrary to section 272.20(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
- Four counts of cause material to be transmitted to himself using a carriage service, the material being child pornography material, contrary to section 474.19(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
- Eleven counts of producing material, being child abuse material, outside of Australia, contrary to subsection 273.6(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
- One count of engaging in sexual activity (other than sexual intercourse) with a child, the child being under 16 years of age and the sexual activity having been engaged in outside Australia, namely at Cebu in the Philippines, contrary to section 272.9(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
The maximum penalty for each of these offences is 15 years’ imprisonment.
The man was also charged with two counts of knowingly possessing child exploitation material, contrary to section 228D of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld). The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years’ imprisonment.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Northern Command Lesa Gale said offences against children online are increasing and international borders are no hindrance to online predators.
“The AFP and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) works with international partners to take all necessary action to identify and rescue children from sexual exploitation, not just in Australia but also internationally,” she said.
“From July 2019 to date the ACCCE has received more than 11,000 reports of child exploitation involving Australians or Australian children.
“Anyone who produces or shares child abuse material is supporting a pervasive and vile industry and we must do all we can to prevent further harm to children.
“This arrest should serve as a warning that commonwealth authorities are dedicated to fighting child sexual exploitation abroad and at home and bringing those who commit these offences to justice.”
Members of the public who have any information about people involved in the possession or sharing of child exploitation material 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 at www.accce.gov.au/report.