A 35-year-old New South Wales woman has been charged with two child abuse offences following an Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigation into allegations the woman was sharing and producing child abuse material featuring a child known to her.
The woman was arrested yesterday (26 March 2020) after AFP officers executed a search warrant at the woman’s Armidale property. She is due to face Armidale Local Court today.
The investigation into the woman’s online activities began following a report from a member of the public that a woman was using an international encrypted messaging service to share child abuse material of a child known to her, as well as offering the child to strangers to be sexually abused.
Enquiries by the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) into the identity of the offender identified a 35-year-old Armidale woman as the alleged user of the encrypted messaging service.
During the search warrant police seized a number of items, including an electronic device which will be subject to further forensic examination. The child is now in the care of family.
The woman was charged with using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material and producing child abuse material for use through a carriage service, contrary to sections 474.22 and 474.23 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for these offences is 15 years imprisonment.
AFP Acting Commander ACCCE and Child Protection Operations Paula Hudson said that despite the current COVID-19 crisis the AFP and the ACCCE, as well as state and territory partners, will not lose focus on combatting child exploitation.
“Our officers are still working diligently to identify and prosecute those who prey on our children. Our work to put a stop to the sexual exploitation of children, be it online or physical abuse, will not stop for anything.” She said.
“Even now as our society grapples with this health crisis, this is a warning to would-be offenders that we are still active and we will still catch you.”
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 .