Melbourne man, 61, convicted of online child abuse charges

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A 61-year-old Hurstbridge man who paid for child exploitation material to be transmitted live from the Philippines on a webcam has been sentenced to five months in jail by Melbourne County Court.

The man pleaded guilty in June this year to conveying child abuse offenses including paying for explicit photos and videos of a child in the Philippines.

Investigators from the Joint Victoria Child Exploitation Team (JACET) arrested and charged the man in September 2021, following an investigation which began with a referral to the Australian Center for Reporting and Analysis transactions (AUSTRAC).

The referral concerned suspicious transfers made from Australia to offshore accounts. Australian authorities identified 173 individual money transfers to accounts in the Philippines over a six-month period in 2021, some of which were payments for child pornography material.

When the Victorian JACET – made up of officers from the AFP and Victoria Police – raided the man’s home in Melbourne’s north-east suburbs in August last year, they seized several electronic devices . After an extensive digital forensic analysis, child pornography material was identified and the man was arrested.

An AFP digital forensic examination also revealed recordings of online conversations between the man and the live remote child abuse hosts.

AFP Acting Superintendent (D/A/Supt) Jonelle Lancashire said the internet allowed child sex offenders to connect with each other even if they lived thousands of miles apart in different countries, but technology had also helped law enforcement agencies cross borders to pursue offenders.

“AFP is working tirelessly with national and international partners to identify and arrest anyone involved in child abuse,” said D/A/Supt Lancashire.

“Children are forced to endure horrific pain, violence and humiliation for the gratification of depraved adults, causing lifelong physical and emotional damage.

“We will never give up our fight to protect children and bring to justice anyone involved in this despicable behavior.”

AUSTRAC’s National Director of Intelligence Partnerships, Jon Brewer, said financial intelligence is key to disrupting crimes that have a devastating impact on the community.

“It was the highly specialized capabilities of AUSTRAC analysts that resulted in the financial intelligence that sparked this child exploitation investigation,” Mr Brewer said.

“Without financial intelligence, many crimes would go undetected, which is why AUSTRAC works closely with law enforcement partners to identify, prevent and disrupt crimes that have devastating consequences. on the community.”

The 61-year-old was found guilty of transmitting child pornography using a carrier service, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth ).

He was sentenced to five months in prison but was released immediately due to exceptional circumstances regarding his family responsibilities.

AFP and its partners are committed to ending the exploitation and abuse of children and the AFP-led Australian Center for Combating Child Exploitation (ACCCE) is leading a collaborative national approach to tackle child abuse.

The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in one central hub, supporting investigations of online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

Members of the public who have information about those involved in child abuse and exploitation are asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.accce.gov.au/report. If you know abuse is happening at the moment or a child is in danger, call the police immediately on 000.

Research by the ACCCE in 2020 found that only around half of parents talk to their children about online safety.

An award-winning podcast launched last year by the ACCCE “Closing The Net” strives to change that, showing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to help prevent this problem is to provide an answer” to the whole community”. .

The podcast series offers valuable advice and tips on how to keep children safe online. Listen to the close the net podcast on your favorite streaming platform.

If you or someone you know is affected by child sexual abuse and online exploitation, support services are available at www.accce.gov.au/support.

Advice and support for parents and guardians on how they can help protect children online can be found at www.thinkuknow.org.auan education program run by AFP and designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

Note to media:

Use of the term ‘CHILD ABUSE’ MATERIAL AND NOT ‘CHILD PORNOGRAPHY’

The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was part of amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the seriousness of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.

The use of the term “child pornography” is inaccurate and benefits child sex offenders because it:

  • indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the aggressor; and
  • conjures up images of children posing in “provocative” positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.

Each photograph or video captures a real situation where a child has been abused.

Media inquiries:
National media AFP: (02) 5126 9297

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