Victorian man charged with grooming underage girls at Lake Illawarra

A Victorian man will face court today, charged with fourteen Commonwealth offences relating to the alleged grooming of underage girls from the Illawarra and South Coast.

In May this year, detectives from Lake Illawarra Police District commenced an investigation after reports were made to police about a man purchasing gifts for young girls in exchange for explicit photographs.

Following extensive inquiries, detectives from Lake Illawarra travelled to a home in Leopold, near Geelong, Victoria, and arrested a 56-year-old man yesterday (Thursday 25 June 2020).

During a subsequent search warrant, investigators seized hard drives, computers and mobile phones. These items will undergo forensic examination.

The man was taken to Geelong Police Station, where he was charged with:

– Using a carriage service to prepare or plan to cause harm to, engage in sexual activity with, or procure for sexual activity, persons under 16 years of age (Carly’s Law),

– Using a carriage service and postal service to groom and procure a child under 16 years for sexual activity,

– Using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to person under 16 years (x2),

– Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence,

– Using a carriage service to groom person under 16 years (x2),

– Using a carriage service for child abuse material (x2),

– Using a postal or similar service to groom persons under 16 (x2), and

– Using a postal or similar service to procure persons under 16 (x3).

Police will allege in court that between November 2019 and May 2020, the man communicated with several girls – aged 13 and 14 – from the Illawarra and South Coast, via social media, and requested explicit photographs.

The man also allegedly sent inappropriate images and videos to the girls.

It’s further alleged the Victorian man travelled to Wollongong to meet two of the girls and bought them gifts.

None of the girls were physically harmed as a result of the incident.

The man was refused bail and is due to appear in Geelong Magistrates Court today (Friday 26 June 2020).

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.

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