Strike Force Trawler charge four men after separate online grooming investigations

Strike Force Trawler detectives have charged four men over the past week following separate investigations into alleged online grooming across NSW.

• Last month, detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crime Squad’s Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU) began engaging online with a man from Sans Souci. Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 13-year-old girl and engaged in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform with the child. Last Thursday (10 June 2021), a search warrant was executed at property at Sans Souci, where detectives seized electronic devices. Following further inquiries, detectives arrested a 43-year-old man at Kogarah Police Station on Tuesday (15 June 2021). He was charged with use carriage service-procure under 16 years for sexual activity. The man appeared at Sutherland Local Court on Friday 18 June 2021, where he was granted strict conditional bail to reappear at the same court on Friday 13 August 2021.

• In a second investigation, CEIU detectives began engaging online with a man from Orange last month. Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old girl and engaged in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform with the child. Following extensive inquiries, strike force detectives arrested a 57-year-old man at a home at Orange about 11.40am on Wednesday (16 June 2021). A search warrant was subsequently executed at the home, where detectives seized a mobile phone. The man was taken to Orange Police Station and charged with one count of use carriage service to groom person under 16 years for sex. He was granted strict conditional bail to Orange Local Court on Monday 26 July 2021.

• In a third incident, CEIU detectives began engaging online with a man from Paddington in June 2021 Following inquiries, a 55-year-old man was arrested at a home at Paddington about 8am on Thursday (17 June 2021). A search warrant was executed at the property, where detectives seized electronic devices. The man was taken to Surry Hills Police Station where he was charged with two counts of using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material. He appeared at Central Local Court the same day, where he was granted strict conditional bail to reappear at the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday 10 August 2021.

• In a fourth investigation, CEIU detectives began engaging online with a man from Sydney’s south last month. Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 13-year-old boy and engaged in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform with the child. Following extensive inquiries, strike force detectives arrested a 33-year-old man at Westmead about 10.20am yesterday (Friday 18 June 2021). A search warrant was subsequently executed at a home in Roseberry, where detectives seized electronic devices. The man was taken to Granville Police Station and charged with two counts of use carriage service-procure under 16 years for sexual activity. He appeared at Parramatta Bail Court yesterday (Saturday 19 June 2021), where he was refused bail to reappear at the same court on Thursday 1 July 2021.

Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Chris Goddard, said the incidents are a timely reminder for parents and carers to speak with young people about potential dangers online.

“For young people, any online platform that allows them to be in contact with others that they do not know – and have only met in the online environment – can put them at risk.” Det A/Supt Goddard said.

“From a police perspective, our priority is protecting children from any type of harm, and we will always utilise every resource at our disposal to locate anyone who uses the internet to groom children.

“While social media apps allow us to be better connected with people we know, they also provide opportunity for people we don’t know to connect with us – and this includes strangers talking to our children.

“With school holidays drawing closer, we want to remind the community to have regular conversations with children about their activities online and how they can keep themselves safe,” Det A/Supt Goddard said.

So far this year, investigators from the Child Abuse and Sex Crime Squad’s Child Exploitation Internet Unit have executed 27 search warrants and arrested 26 people for 95 offences.

More information can be accessed via the eSafety website: https://www.esafety.gov.au/

Educational packages for parents and children are available from ThinkUKnow, a multi-agency program designed to educate and promote cyber safety: https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/

Strike Force Trawler is an ongoing investigation by the CEIU into the sexual abuse and exploitation of children facilitated through the internet and related telecommunications devices.

Regular covert online investigations are conducted by the CEIU; and police in NSW work closely with their law-enforcement colleagues interstate and overseas.

The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.

Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. People should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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