A 23-year-old Sydney man accused of sexually exploiting a young New Zealand girl he groomed through social media has been charged by Australian Federal Police (AFP) after an international tip-off.
The man is expected to face Parramatta Local Court today (29 July 2020) charged with using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to a person aged under 16, contrary to section 474.27A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
He faces a maximum seven years’ imprisonment if convicted.
The AFP’s NSW Child Protection Operations (CPO) team launched an investigation after New Zealand Police reported suspicions that a man in Sydney had posed as a child to send sexually explicit messages to a young girl in NZ and had coerced her into sending photographs to him.
Police identified the 23-year-old man as the suspected user of the social media account and a warrant was executed at his suburban Sydney home on Wednesday, 3 June (2020).
A computer and phone were seized which police allege contains child abuse material, including records of sexualised online conversations with young girls.
AFP Commander Kirsty Schofield, Investigations Eastern Command, said the arrest highlights the AFP’s close partnership with NZ Police.
“Australian and NZ Police stand together in protecting our young people from this abhorrent crime,” Commander Schofield said.
“It is disgusting that adults trawl online platforms to try to engage children in sexualised conversations or to send intimate images, and the distress and harm it causes children is irreparable.
“We work tirelessly with our partners to stamp out this behaviour and prosecute anyone who preys on children – whether that’s online or through physical contact.”
Commander Schofield hopes the allegations in this case will also be a reminder that cyber security is an important conversation for families to have.
“It is important that children feel comfortable talking to adults if they are worried about someone who has contacted them online and not share anything online that they would not tell anyone else about.”
Last year, the AFP’s Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) received almost 17,000 reports of child exploitation – that’s about 45 cases a day.
Between July 2019 and May 2020, the AFP has laid 1078 Commonwealth Child Exploitation charges against 144 people. It compares to 74 summons and arrests; and 372 charges laid in the previous financial year.
The average number of images seized when an offender is arrested has been steadily increasing. In the early-to-mid 2000s, a child sex predator had about 1000 images, now it’s between 10,000 to 80,000 images and videos.
The annual report of the Internet Watch Foundation stated that in 2019 it assessed a webpage every two minutes. And every four minutes that webpage showed a child being sexually abused.
“If it takes a village to raise a child, advances in technology now means it takes a country to keep them safe,” Commander Schofield said. “The AFP will never relinquish this duty.
“The AFP is working around-the-clock with our international and domestic partners to bring to justice those who seek to do harm to our children.”
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.
Editor’s note: Footage of the arrest is available here https://spaces.hightail.com/space/fqsoNTwqJ9
Note to media:
USE OF TERM ‘CHILD ABUSE’ MATERIAL, NOT ‘CHILD PORNOGRAPHY’
Use of the phrase “child pornography” benefits child sex abusers because it:
indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and conjures images of children posing in ‘provocative’ positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.
Every photograph captures an actual situation where a child has been abused. This is not “pornography”.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297