WA man first sentenced over Operation Arkstone investigation into online child abuse network

A 30-year-old man was sentenced yesterday (24 February 2021) by the Perth District Court for online child abuse offences, the first offender sentenced as a result of the Australian Federal Police-led investigation Operation Arkstone.

The Yangebup man was arrested in June 2020 after he was allegedly identified exchanging abusive videos and photographs with a NSW man, who was earlier charged as part of the investigation into an alleged Australian online child sex offender network.

The Western Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (WA JACET) alleged the Yangebup man had been sharing abusive content with the NSW man since late 2019 and had shared child abuse material with other online contacts through a social media platform.

The 30-year-old pleaded guilty last year (2020) to two offences – using a carriage service to access child abuse material and using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material.

The man admitted to opening links sent to him which contained videos and images of children being abused and also sent abusive material to other online users.

The man has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment but to be released forthwith on an 18-month, $1000 good behaviour bond that includes supervision and counselling conditions.

Operation Arkstone was launched in early 2020 and since then, 17 men have been charged with various child-abuse related offences and 49 children removed from harm.

The investigation started after the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) received a report from the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about alleged online offending in Australia.

Evidence analysed from the arrest of a NSW man in February 2020 revealed an online network of alleged child sex offenders producing and sharing child abuse material with their peers on social media forums.

Since the first arrest, AFP investigators and forensic specialists have been examining the evidence from each arrest and identifying more alleged offenders linked to this network.

AFP Detective Superintendent ACCCE and Child Protection Operations, Paula Hudson said police are still examining seized evidence and have not ruled out the possibility of further arrests.

“No child should ever be subjected to the horrific acts that we have seen in the material shared among this network,” Detective Superintendent Hudson said.

“Not all of the alleged offenders have physically abused children themselves, but those who sit at their computers at homes and exchange this material creates the horrific demand that causes others to physically violate and hurt children.

“Online offenders are just as complicit in the physical crimes – and the results from Operation Arkstone so far should be a warning the AFP and our State police partners will do whatever we can to identify and put before the courts anyone who preys on children.”

Detective Superintendent Hudson said Operation Arkstone investigators had also identified suspected offenders overseas and had made reports to law enforcement in multiple countries.

“We want to thank all our State and Territory police partners, as well as Homeland Security Investigations in the United States, for their crucial assistance during this investigation,” Detective Superintendent Hudson said.

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.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available, visit to learn more www.accce.gov.au/support

//

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.