Adelaide man, 21, jailed for online child abuse offences

Editor's note: An image and footage from the man’s arrest in 2020 is available via Hightail

An Adelaide man who was arrested for attempting to meet a minor he met online was yesterday sentenced to six years' imprisonment by the South Australia District Court (14 June 2022).

The man, now aged 21, pleaded guilty in August 2021 to 13 online child abuse related offences, including using a carriage service for sexual activity with a person aged under-16.

He was 19 years old when he was arrested by the South Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (SA JACET) at a train station in August 2020.

The man believed he was meeting a 14-year-old girl with whom he had been having sexually explicit exchanges online, but it was actually a covert police officer posing as a child.

Investigators from SA JACET – comprising of officers from the AFP and South Australia Police – searched the man’s home after his arrest and found child abuse material on electronic devices.  Some of the material was of young children being sexually abused, while other files were sexually explicit videos self-produced by teenage girls who he had groomed and manipulated.

In February 2020, the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) received a report from the United States' National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about an Australian allegedly uploading child abuse material to social media.

The ACCCE identified the man as the person uploading the abhorrent image.

A covert police operative posed as a girl and the man was soon chatting to her through social media. He was arrested when he went to meet her in person.

AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Ben Moses said it was fortunate on this occasion that an Adelaide child had not been on their way to meet an adult who was planning to abuse them.

"We want parents and carers to understand how their children are being targeted and how predators abuse technology to try and invite themselves into the bedrooms of children," Det-A/Supt Moses said.

"Please remind children to never meet up with anyone they have only known online or tell those online 'friends' personal information that could help someone to find them.”

Det-A/Supt Moses said the case should also be a warning to adults who were trying to prey on children online.

“The AFP and our partners have officers working on a range of platforms online to identify people trying to harm children. The next ‘child’ you try to exploit could instead be a police officer,” he said.

The man was convicted of 13 offences:

  • Four counts of using a carriage service for sexual activity with a person under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.25A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of using a carriage service to procure a person under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.26 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • Three counts of using a carriage service to access or obtain child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of using a carriage service to solicit child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of using a carriage service to cause child abuse material to be transmitted, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of possession or control of child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to a person under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.27A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The man has been ordered to serve three years’ imprisonment before being eligible to apply for parole.

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the 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 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.

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media: (02) 5126 9297

If it doesn't add up, speak up. Call the National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400.

Read the AFP Annual Report 2020-21

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

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