Queensland Man Charged in Attempted Child Sex Abuse Abroad

A West Mackay man, 56, is expected to face Downing Centre Local Court today (7 March 2023) on three child abuse-related offences, including allegedly trying to arrange sexual activity with children in the Philippines.

On 7 January 2023, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers selected the man for a baggage examination when he arrived at Sydney Airport on a flight from the Philippines.

ABF officers checked the man's phone and allegedly found child abuse material, as well as messages allegedly discussing the sexual abuse of children in the Philippines.

The ABF referred the matter to the AFP for further investigation and the man was later charged with three offences. A forensic examination of his devices has been completed.

Police will allege the man was grooming a third party to gain access to female children in the Philippines.

AFP Detective Sergeant Navi Pandher said the AFP was working with international law enforcement partners to identify Philippines child sex facilitators and ensure the safety of any children targeted.

"We continue to work tirelessly with domestic and international partners to combat the exploitation and abuse of children, wherever they live," Detective Sergeant Pandher said.

"Our focus is protecting children and ensuring anyone who tries to harm them is identified and brought before the courts."

ABF Superintendent Phillip Anderson commended ABF officers at Sydney Airport for intercepting the man and detecting the child abuse material allegedly in his possession.

"It's a tragedy that this type of abhorrent material ever exists in the first place but sadly it is something our officers come across all too often," Superintendent Anderson said.

"That's what makes the work of our officers at the Australian border so critical. Our people are highly trained and experienced at detecting this type of repulsive content and they take pride in protecting the Australian, and international, community."

The man first faced Parramatta Local Court on 8 January, 2023, where he was granted conditional bail to re-appear in court on 7 March, 2023.

The man was charged with:

  • Intentionally importing tier 2 goods without approval, contrary to section 233BAB(5) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth);
  • Possessing child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • Grooming a person to make it easier to engage in sexual activity with a child outside of Australia, contrary to section 272.15A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offences is 15 years' imprisonment.

The AFP, ABF and their 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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