Far North Queensland Man jailed for possession of over half million files of child abuse

This a joint release between the Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police Service and Philippines National Police

A 76-year-old Innisfail man has been jailed for the possession of over half a million files of child abuse material and five children rescued from harm in the Philippines following a multi-national investigation into the sexual abuse of children.

The Innisfail man was jailed yesterday (1 February 2022) for six years, with a non-parole period of three years, after being found guilty of a range of child abuse material offences as a result of an investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Philippines National Police (PNP).

AFP investigators, working with officers from the QPS, conducted a search warrant at the man's Innisfail home on 27 April 2019, following intelligence gathered about the man's activities by the AFP.

Forensic analysis of digital media and storage devices located at the home saw investigators uncover and identify over 500,000 files of child abuse material.

The man was charged with procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside of Australia and possessing child exploitation material.

Further investigations by AFP officers discovered the man had sent over $160,000 to people based in the Philippines to facilitate the sexual abuse of children. Investigators also identified people in the Philippines suspected of being involved in the abuse of children.

The AFP's International Command in the Philippines referred intelligence to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC), of which the AFP is a partner agency.

On 10 October 2020, the Philippine National Police Women and Children's Protection Centre Visayas Field Unit executed a search warrant in the province of Biliran, where five people were arrested.

This resulted in five children, aged between 14 and 17, being rescued from further online sexual exploitation.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the operation showed how the AFP works with police in Australia and overseas to target those funding the abuse of children.

"The amount of child abuse material uncovered in this investigation alone is horrifying and shows the scale of the problem facing modern law enforcement," she said.

"The AFP will never stop investigating those who fund or facilitate the sexual abuse of children and we will use every resource, including our networks in Australia and abroad, to put these people before the courts and remove children from harmful situations, no matter where in the world they may be."

AFP Detective Superintendent Andrew Perkins, Senior Officer Manila, said the AFP's International Command collaborated closely with Philippine authorities through the PICACC.

"The work of the PICACC continues to help law enforcement around the world counter online child exploitation and remove victims from further harm," he said.

QPS Acting Chief Superintendent Kev Goan said the conviction and sentencing was testament to collaborative efforts of law enforcement operating in North Queensland to not only keep the community safe, but to advance investigations protecting children living offshore.

"We remain resolute in our commitments with partner agencies to prosecute persons engaged in this abhorrent crime type at every opportunity," he said.

Police Brigadier General Alesandro Abella, Chief of the PNP Women and Children Protection Centre said; "this outcome highlights the close partnership between the Philippine National Police and the Australian Federal Police and our shared commitment in protecting children and arresting and prosecuting child sex offenders, irrespective of their location."

The PICACC has undertaken 148 operations that have resulted in the rescue of 445 victims since its inception in February 2019. Ninety-three suspects/facilitators have been charged and 18 offenders have been convicted. Australian-based investigations led to the arrest/charge of 40 suspects and the removal of 160 children from harm.

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