Two children removed from harm in the Philippines following international investigation
This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force and Philippine National Police.
Two young girls have been removed from harm in the Philippines following an international child sexual abuse investigation.
An investigation between the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) began after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers allegedly found child abuse material on a New South Wales’ man’s mobile phone.
ABF officers at Sydney International Airport allegedly found the illegal content when the man, 51, was selected for a baggage examination on his return from Asia on 4 April, 2023.
Further forensic analysis of the mobile phone by ABF revealed the man allegedly engaged in conversations with two adult women in the Philippines. The conversations expressed his alleged sexual interest in young children and encouraged the women to produce child abuse material of two children in their care.
It will also be alleged the man sent payments for the production of child abuse material and expressed interest in travelling to the Philippines to sexually abuse one of the girls.
The matter was referred to the AFP for further investigation, and the man was arrested in May 2023 following a search warrant of a caravan located in Stanhope, believed to be his primary residence. During the warrants, officers seized another mobile phone that allegedly contained child abuse material.
AFP officers in Manila referred intelligence to the PNP and the investigation resulted in the identification of two girls, both aged 11, in Manila, who were placed into the care of child protection services in June 2023.
PNP also arrested a man, 25, in the Philippines who had allegedly purported to be the adult females who had allegedly been conversing with the NSW man.
AFP Manila Liaison Officer Detective Sergeant Daisie Beckensall said the case highlighted the strength of the AFP’s international network and the commitment of all agencies to protect children around the world.
“The rescues and arrests are a powerful reminder of why the AFP works closely with partners around the globe – to share intelligence and the resources necessary to target anyone who preys on children,” Det-Sgt Beckensall said.
AFP Detective Inspector Jeremy Staunton said child sexual abuse victims were re-victimised every time images or videos of the crimes was accessed and shared.
“We allege the Australian man did not just pay to watch children being hurt – he encouraged harm to be inflicted on these girls for his own personal gratification,” he said.
ABF Superintendent Phillip Anderson said the examination of electronic devices at the Australian border was a critical function in protecting the community.
“Our goal is to protect our most precious national asset – the Australian border. This includes protecting it from people who choose to engage in the worst kind of abhorrent criminal activity,” Supt Anderson said.
“I congratulate the ABF officers on the front line who used their intuition to stop and question this man and have subsequently saved two minors from years of alleged abuse.”
Philippine National Police Chief of the Women and Children Protection Centre Police Colonel Portia Manalad said Philippines police were committed to collaborating with international law enforcement agencies to bring this borderless crime to an end.
“Our pursuit to rescue and protect children from online sexual exploitation will continue until we have arrested the last trafficker and abuser doing this vile crime,” Colonel Manalad said.
The Hunter Valley man is appearing in Downing Centre Local Court again today (25 July, 2023), charged with:
- One count of using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to person under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.27A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
- One count of using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
- One count grooming a person to make it easier to engage in sexual activity with a child outside Australia, contrary to section 272.15A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
- One count breaching bail, contrary to section 77(1) of the Bail Act 2013 (NSW).
The maximum penalty for the offences is 15 years' imprisonment.
The man, 25, arrested in the Philippines has also been charged for alleged child abuse offences.
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 are urged to contact the ACCCE at www.accce.gov.au/report. 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 at www.accce.gov.au/support.
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 at www.thinkuknow.org.au, 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 www.accce.gov.au.
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