Sydney man jailed for grooming children online
A Sydney man, 38, has been sentenced to nine years’ jail after pleading guilty to 12 online child abuse offences, including grooming multiple children under the age of 16.
The AFP’s Child Protection Operations team arrested and charged the man, who has previous convictions for child abuse-related offences, in November 2021.
Police had launched an investigation after receiving information from a member of the public about an online user allegedly grooming a young girl on an instant messaging platform called Discord.
AFP investigators linked the man to the account and executed a search warrant at his Summer Hill home on 16 November 2021, where they seized a mobile phone which was found to contain child abuse material and records of sexually explicit chats with multiple young girls across a number of online messaging applications.
On 13 January 2023, the man pleaded guilty in the Waverly Local Court to 12 offences:
- Two counts of using a carriage service to procure persons under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.26 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
- Two counts of using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to a person believed to be under 16 years of age, contrary to subsection 474.27A(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
- Four counts of using a carriage service to ‘groom’ persons under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.27 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
- One count of using a carriage service to engage in sexual activity with a child under 16, contrary to section 474.25A(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
- One count of using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
- One count of contravening a Child Protection Prohibition Order without reasonable excuse, contrary to section 13(1) of the Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 (NSW); and
- One count of failing to comply with reporting obligations without reasonable excuse, contrary to section 13(1) of the Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 (NSW).
He was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of six years.
Detective Inspector Jeremy Staunton said the AFP and its partners would never give up their fight to protect children and stop those trying to harm them, but appealed for help from parents and carers to keep children safe.
“Please talk to children about what platforms, apps and games they are using and remind them never to reveal personal information to any so-called friends they meet online,’’ Detective Inspector Staunton said.
“Offenders are manipulative and ruthless and they can quickly coerce or threaten children into engaging in sexualised conversations or behaviour.
"Supervision is not only critical to helping prevent an incident from happening but can also help adults to act quickly if they need to alert law enforcement.
"If your child has been targeted, reassure them that it's not their fault and there is help available – children and young people are never to blame for being a victim of online child sexual exploitation."
The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation 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.
Note 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