Mildura man charged with offshore child abuse offences

A Mildura man has been charged by the Victorian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (Vic-JACET) for allegedly encouraging a sexual offence with a child outside Australia.

The man, 29, will appear before the Mildura Magistrates Court today (Wednesday, 10 August) after being arrested by Vic-JACET yesterday.

The Vic-JACET began an investigation on 5 August (2022) following a referral from the Australian Border Force (ABF).

When the man arrived at Melbourne International Airport on a flight from Pakistan, ABF officers examined his baggage and electronic devices and allegedly found messages between him and facilitators outside Australia, offering payment in return for live and pre-recorded videos of child abuse material.

Investigators from Vic-JACET, comprising members from AFP and Victoria Police, ABF and Victoria Police Mildura Sexual Offences and Child-abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) executed a search warrant at the man’s home yesterday (9 August).

Leading Senior Constable Alan Giles said the AFP and its state and territory law enforcement partners remained committed to protecting children.

“We work together with our partner agencies to locate and target online predators, wherever they may be in the world. It does not matter if you commit a child abuse offence offshore – we will do everything in our power to ensure justice for vulnerable children,” L/S/C Giles said.

“There’s no getting away with exploiting and abusing children, even online or in environments where you think you are safe; we will eventually find you.”

ABF Superintendent Uriah Turner said the case demonstrated the ability of law enforcement to detect child abuse material and catch offenders.

“We know that the abuse of vulnerable children has devastating and wide-reaching impacts,” Supt Turner said.

“We will not hesitate to investigate any individual who would seek to prey upon vulnerable children, either in Australia or offshore.

“ABF officers are highly skilled at identifying people at our airports who are involved in, or carrying child exploitation material.”

The man was arrested and charged with:

  • Encouraging a sexual offence with a child outside Australia, contrary to section 272.19 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years’ imprisonment.

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) is driving a collaborative national approach to combatting child abuse.

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 and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.accce.gov.au/report. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.

Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety.

An award-winning podcast launched last year by the ACCCE ‘Closing The Net’ is working to change that, showcasing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to help prevent this issue is if we bring a ‘whole-of-community’ response.

The podcast series offers valuable tips and advice on how to keep kids safe online. Listen to the Closing The Net podcast on your favourite streaming platform.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available at www.accce.gov.au/support.

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

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