A 37-year-old Toowoomba man is expected to face Toowoomba Magistrates Court today (Monday, 2 August 2021) charged with child abuse-related offences following an Australian Federal Police (AFP) operation.
The investigation began in early 2021 after the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) received a report from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the United States regarding child abuse material allegedly being accessed and transmitted via Gmail stored on devices and online accounts.
AFP child protection investigators identified a Queensland man allegedly connected with this material. The AFP executed a search warrant at the man’s home last week and seized a smartphone.
The man was issued a Notice to Appear to face the Toowoomba Magistrates Court in October for two offences.
However, AFP digital forensic examination of the device was able to extract additional concerning child abuse material and chat logs. As a result, the AFP Child Protection Operations team from Brisbane arrested the man on Saturday, 1 August, 2021 on additional charges.
The man was taken to the Toowoomba Watch House and denied bail to appear before the Toowoomba Magistrates Court this morning. He was charged with:
- One count of accessing child abuse material using a carriage service contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
- One count of soliciting child abuse material using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(iv) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
- One count of possessing or controlling child abuse material, obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).
The maximum penalty for these offences is 15 years’ imprisonment.
AFP Child Protection Operations Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson said “predators are spending more time than ever online since the COVID-19 outbreak – but so are police.” “Sexual abuse has a devastating impact on children and their families and the AFP, with our partners, are relentless in our efforts to stamp it out.”
“The community may think that COVID-19 restrictions have stopped us from operational activity to protect children, but they are wrong. Investigators are on both the dark and clear net ensuring that children are safe and our Joint Anti Child Exploitation Teams across the country are executing search warrants on a near daily basis arresting offenders.”
Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online.
If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available.
Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protection children online can be found at ThinkUKnow, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.