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21 February 2024, 6:10pm
Media Release

NT man charged in two states for alleged child abuse offences

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

A Darwin man is facing charges in two states for alleged child abuse offences after a Northern Territory Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (NT JACET) investigation.

The man, 56, appeared in the Darwin Magistrates Court yesterday (20 February 2024) on two charges, after he was first arrested in Sydney last week (16 February 2024).

The NT JACET, comprising members from the AFP and Northern Territory Police, began an investigation in November 2023, after a referral from the United States’ Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) about an Australian producing and distributing child abuse material online.

Police allegedly linked the Darwin man to the illegal activity and he was arrested in NSW on Friday (16 February 2024) when he returned to Australia on an international flight.  

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers searched the man’s luggage on his arrival at Sydney Airport  and police will allege that child abuse material and messages about offending were located on the man’s mobile device.

The ABF alerted the AFP Child Protection Operations Team and as a result of further inquiries and forensic examination of the man’s mobile device, the AFP issued him a court attendance notice for:

  • Using a carriage service to solicit child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • Using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The man is due to appear in the Sydney Downing Centre Local Court on 4 April 2024.

He then flew back to the Northern Territory.

On the same day the man had returned to Australia (16 February 2024), NT JACET investigators executed a search warrant at his Darwin home.

They seized electronic devices including a mobile phone, hard drive, laptops and tablet for forensic examination.

Initial forensic analysis of the man’s electronic devices allegedly identified hundreds of child abuse images and videos.

NT JACET arrested and charged the man on Saturday (17 February 2024) with:

  • Two counts of possessing and controlling child abuse material, obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for the offence is 15 years' imprisonment.

AFP Superintendent Gregory Davis said the AFP was committed to working with local and international law enforcement partners to protect children and identify those who tried to harm them, no matter where they were in the world.

“We are working closely with our partners to ensure we are finding offenders and bringing them before the courts,’’ he said.

“Child exploitation is not a victimless crime. Children are not commodities to be used for the abhorrent gratification of sexual predators.”

ABF Acting Superintendent, Carolina Bugedo, said her officers would continue to work closely with the AFP and other stakeholders to combat this crime type.

“The ABF is committed to protecting the Australian community and also to protecting children wherever they may be, from the scourge of child abuse material,” she said.

“Our message to those who may be tempted to engage in this appalling activity is simple. Together with our partners we will detect this and you can expect to face the full legal consequences for your actions.”

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (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 are urged to contact the ACCCE. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.

If you or someone you know is impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation, support services are available.

Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety. Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found on the ThinkUKnow website, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

For more information on the role of the ACCCE, what is online child sexual exploitation and how to report it visit the ACCCE website.

Note to media


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

Use of the phrase ‘child pornography’ is inaccurate and 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 or video captures an actual situation where a child has been abused.

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