Victorian man, 21, sentenced for soliciting child abuse material on social media

A Victorian man, 21, was sentenced today (01 July, 2022) to 14 months’ imprisonment by the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to three child abuse material offences.

The Fraser Rise man was arrested in July 2021, following a report to the AFP that he was using social media to solicit child abuse material and procure sexual activity from minors.

In April 2021, the Victorian Joint-Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET), which comprises officers from the AFP and Victoria Police, executed a search warrant at the man’s home. Investigators seized a Samsung Galaxy mobile phone that contained sexually explicit conversations over social media between the man and three minors.

In the conversations, the man lied about his age and offered to pay for explicit images of the minors and sent them explicit images and videos of himself.

AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Jonelle Lancashire said that every time an offender is jailed for child abuse material offences it provides an important opportunity to reflect on the online protection of children.

“When offenders cyber-flash explicit images and videos to children on social media, it’s all done in the click of a button,” D/A/Supt Lancashire said.

“For the young person on the receiving end, they are left feeling violated by extremely graphic images or videos they didn’t ask for”.

“We encourage young people to consider privacy settings on all their social media profiles and to only communicate with people they know and trust.”

The man was arrested in July 2021 and was today convicted of the following offences:

  • Two counts of using a carriage service to procure a person he believed to be under 16 years of age for sexual activity, contrary to section 474.26(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth): and
  • Solicit child abuse material using a carriage service contrary to sub-section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

He was sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment but was released immediately on a two-year good behaviour bond and ordered to pay $500.

The AFP and its 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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