Operation Arkstone: North Sydney man sentenced for child abuse offence
A 32-year-old North Sydney man linked to an international online child abuse network received a maximum two-year sentence by the Sydney District Court on Friday (11 March 2022).
AFP Eastern Command Child Protection investigators arrested the man at his home in the suburb of Willoughby on 17 March 2021, following an Operation Arkstone investigation into the sharing of child abuse material online.
The man pleaded guilty to one count of possess or control child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).
He received a two-year prison sentence and was released immediately under strict conditions, including being of good behaviour for four years.
The man was identified as part of Operation Arkstone, an AFP-led, large-scale child protection operation.
The nationwide operation began in February 2020 when a 30-year-old Central Coast man was arrested for child abuse offences. The arrest followed a referral 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 has to date identified 56 child victims in Australia, who have been removed from further harm. Twenty-five Australian alleged offenders have been charged with 1350 offences.
US Homeland Security has been integral in identifying the online network of alleged child sex offenders throughout Operation Arkstone, which has also resulted in multiple arrests in the United States. Investigations in the US are continuing.
Members of the public who have information about 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.
If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available, visit the ACCCE to learn more.
Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protection children online can be found at ThinkUKnow, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.
Notes to media:
Use of term 'CHILD ABUSE' MATERIAL NOT 'CHILD PORNOGRAPHY'
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.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297