WA man charged with accessing child abuse material on dark web after UK tip-off

This is a joint media release between Australian Federal Police and WA Police Force

The Western Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (WA JACET) has charged a 64-year-old man with possessing child abuse material after investigating a tip-off from the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

The man is expected to face Perth Magistrates Court today (5 June) charged with two counts of possessing child abuse material accessed via a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

He faces a potential 15 years imprisonment if convicted.

An investigation was launched by WA JACET and the AFP Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) after the NCA reported a suspected Australian internet user, who was allegedly accessing abhorrent images, videos and other child abuse material through a dark web online forum.

A 64-year-old man was identified as the suspected user of the account and officers executed a search warrant at his home in the Perth Hills on 13 May (2020).

Police seized a number of devices, which they allege contain child abuse material and a digital forensic examination is ongoing.

AFP First Constable Ben Vernon, of the WA JACET, said Australian authorities share intelligence with international partners like the NCA to identify people who access child abuse material, as well as those who produce it.

“Alarmingly the appetite for child exploitation material is increasing and there are people in our community who will abuse vulnerable children to satisfy the criminal impulses of others and make money,” he said.

“Sexual abuse causes irreparable harm and we are determined to protect children wherever they live and prosecute anyone who preys on them, whether it’s online or through physical contact.

“To those thinking of accessing or sharing this material, use of the dark web or encrypted systems will not enable you to stay anonymous.”

Reports to the ACCCE’s Child Protection Triage Unit increased from 776 per month on average between October 2018 and March 2019, to 1731 per month between October 2019 and March 2020.

AFP Detective Superintendent Child Protection Operations, Paula Hudson, said the ACCCE is committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and is at the centre of a collaborative national approach to combatting organised child abuse.

The Centre brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into child sexual abuse and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

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.

You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.

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