A Melbourne man has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by Melbourne County Court after an AFP investigation revealed the man shared child sexual abuse material online.
The man, 34, was identified through a nationwide investigation know as Operation Arkstone – an AFP-led, large-scale child protection operation.
Investigators from the Victorian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET) executed a search warrant on 18 November 2021, at the man’s Truganina home, where they seized multiple electronic devices containing child abuse images and videos.
A forensic examination of the phones revealed multiple files depicting child abuse material and the sexual torture of pre-pubescent and pubescent children. He also shared the abuse material with others online, through instant messaging applications.
AFP Senior Constable Cassandra Barlee said the level of vile offending identified during Operation Arkstone shocked Australia.
“Our child protection investigators left no stone unturned in their inquiries to identify offenders and ensure child victims were saved from further abuse,” Senior Constable Barlee said.
“These children will sadly have to live with the trauma of their abuse for the rest of their lives. If our investigators could provide one peace of mind, it’s to ensure their abusers never have the opportunity to inflict more harm on them or others.”
The man pled guilty to 7 child abuse charges on 21 November 2022.
- Access child pornography using a carriage service contrary to s474.19(1)(a)(i) Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
- Make available child abuse material using a carriage service using a carriage service contrary to 474.22(1)(a)(iii) Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
- Promote material child abuse material using a carriage service contrary to s474.22(1)(a)(iii) Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
- Access child abuse material contrary to s474.22(1)(a)(i) Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
- Transmit child abuse material contrary to s474.22(1)(a)(iii) Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
- Cause child abuse material to be transmitted contrary to s474.22(1)(a)(ii) Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
- Possess child abuse material contrary to s474.22A(1) Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).
He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of six months. He is eligible for parole in May 2023 and will be placed on the Sex Offenders Registry for life.
Operation Arkstone was launched in February 2020 when investigators from Eastern Command Child Protection Operations arrested a then 30-year-old Central Coast man for child abuse offences. The initial arrest followed a report to the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) from the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The digital trail from that first arrest in February 2020 has to date identified 56 child victims in Australia, who have been removed from harm. 26 Australian alleged offenders have been charged with 1359 offences.
The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the 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.