09 February 2024, 8:53pm
WA man charged with online child abuse offences
This is a joint release between Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force and Western Australia Police Force
A West Australian man has been charged with accessing, possessing and soliciting child abuse material after authorities allegedly found illegal images and videos on his phone when he returned from overseas.
The man, 48, appeared in Perth Magistrates Court today (9 February, 2024) after he was arrested and charged last night.
An investigation started after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers at Perth Airport examined the man's baggage when he arrived on an international flight late yesterday (8 February, 2024).
They allegedly found child abuse material on a phone in his possession and alerted the West Australian Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team (WA JACET).
WA JACET officers also examined the phone and allegedly found images and videos of a girl being sexually abused, as well as records of online conversations between the phone user and a person overseas discussing payment for the abusive content.
The man was then charged with three offences and bail was refused by police.
He faced Perth Magistrates Court today and is next expected to appear in court on 22 March, 2024.
AFP Detective Sergeant Karen Addiscott said AFP investigators in WA were working with AFP members based overseas and with international authorities to identify the child and the abuse facilitator.
"We will do whatever we can to help our counterparts overseas to find this child and ensure she is safe from further harm," Det-Sgt Addiscott said.
"Anyone who accesses and views images of children being exploited contributes to the demand for other people to physically harm and traumatise children – it is not a victimless crime.
"Children are not commodities to be used for the abhorrent gratification of sexual predators.
"The AFP is working closely with the ABF and other partners to protect children, wherever they live, and to ensure anyone who tries to harm them is identified and brought before the courts."
ABF Acting Commander Vesna Gavranich said ABF officers played a critical role at the border to protect the community, which included detecting the importation of child abuse material on electronic devices.
"We are dedicated to ensuring people seeking to import child abuse material into Australia are caught and will face the full consequences of their actions," Acting Commander Vesna Gavranich said.
The man has been charged with:
- Three counts of using a carriage service to solicit child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22 (1)(a)(iv) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
- One count of using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
- One count of possessing child abuse material accessed or obtained using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The maximum penalty for each of the offences is 15 years' imprisonment.
WA JACET comprises AFP and Western Australia Police Force officers.
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. 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
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.