Overseas Child Abuse: Australian Man Imprisoned for Grooming

A Victorian man has been sentenced to 13 years and eight months' imprisonment by the Melbourne County Court after pleading guilty to 13 child abuse offences, including the persistent sexual abuse of a child under 16 years of age outside of Australia.

The Epping man, 46, communicated with overseas-based victims via social media applications to solicit child abuse material and arrange to meet minors in the Philippines across an extended period. There was evidence on some occasions he made payments to overseas facilitators in exchange for child abuse material.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers conducted a search on the man at Melbourne International Airport on his arrival from the Philippines in September 2022. The man's phone was found to contain child abuse material and seized.

The AFP took carriage of the investigation and, with the assistance of Victoria Police, executed a search warrant at the man's home in November 2022, seizing a laptop and external hard drives.

A forensic review of the electronic devices, including the mobile phone, uncovered more than 900 files of child abuse material, including self-produced videos of the man engaging directly in sexual intercourse and sexual activity with a child under 16 years of age in the Philippines.

As a result of information provided to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICAAC) via the AFP Manila Post, two nine-year-old girls were removed from harm by the Philippine National Police in February and March 2023.

The man pleaded guilty on 26 March 2024 to:

  • One count of persistent sexual abuse of a child outside of Australia, contrary to subsection 272.11(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth); and
  • Nine counts of groom a person to make it easier to engage in sexual activity with a child outside Australia, contrary to subsection 272.15A(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth);
  • Two counts of use carriage service to solicit child abuse material and cause child abuse material to be transmitted to himself, contrary to subsection 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth);
  • One count of possess or control child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to subsection 474.22A(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

The man was subsequently sentenced to a total of 13 years and eight months' imprisonment with a non-parole period of nine years and six months on Tuesday, 11 June, 2024.

AFP Detective Superintendent Bernard Geason said the AFP's strong relationships with law enforcement partners were crucial to bring to justice a man who caused significant harm to young victims.

"We cannot send a clearer message to offenders - if you engage in these abhorrent activities, you will be found and face the full force of the law," he said.

"Online child abuse causes significant harm to victims who suffer each time images or videos of their abuse is accessed and shared.

"Members of the AFP and Victoria Police Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET) regularly have to deal with the most abhorrent aspects of child sexual abuse, and I'd like to thank them in their relentless pursuit to protect children and prosecute those who cause them harm."

ABF Superintendent Kelly-Anne Parish said the ABF remained absolutely resolute in its approach to child exploitation material.

"ABF officers play a critical role at the border to protect the community, which includes the importation of illegal and abhorrent digital material featuring child victims both within Australia and abroad," Superintendent Parish said.

"Cases like these sadly demonstrate that child abuse material is not a victimless crime. Our officers are dedicated to disrupting this abhorrent crime."

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) might be of the point-in-time nature, and edited for clarity, style and length. Mirage.News does not take institutional positions or sides, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s).View in full here.