Regional Victorian man charged, after rescue of nine children in Philippines last month

A 67 year-old regional Victorian man has been charged with child abuse offences after police linked him to alleged payments to a known child exploitation facilitator in the Philippines.

The Victorian Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team (JACET), comprising Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria Police members, executed a search warrant at the man’s regional residence in central Victoria on Wednesday 3 March, 2021.

Investigators seized a mobile phone, a hard-drive and a laptop computer from the property for further forensic analysis. Police will allege in court that documents found on the seized computer contained child abuse material and records of online chat conversations allegedly facilitating, ‘pay-per-view’ child abuse content.

The man was bailed to appear before the Bendigo Magistrates court today (5 March 2021) charged with:

  • Possession of child abuse material contrary to section 474.22A(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)

The maximum penalty for this offence in 15 years’ imprisonment.

The investigation into the 67-year-old is linked to an earlier Victorian JACET arrest of a Victorian man charged by the Australian Federal Police for allegedly paying for live-distance child exploitation.

Police traced the initial arrest to the Philippines which led to the rescue of nine children and the arrest of a woman by Philippine authorities last month.

The children, aged between two and 16 years, were removed from harm after the AFP alerted the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC).

Investigations are continuing.

AFP Commander Investigations Todd Hunter said the AFP and its JACET partner Victoria Police are committed to keeping vulnerable children safe – wherever they are in the world.

“The Victorian JACET will continue to work together, and with our International partners, to track down and prosecute anyone who seeks to bring harm to any child.

“That includes those who access and share images and photographs of children being abused by other people.

“Today’s arrest is testament to our resolute efforts to follow the evidence through all avenues of enquiry. If we suspect there may be children at risk – we will not rest until the investigation – and all perpetrators – are brought to justice.”

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