Australian man sentenced for child abuse offences committed in Mongolia

A 50-year-old Australian man has been sentenced to two years in jail for child abuse-related offences committed in Mongolia, following a joint operation between Australian Federal Police (AFP) child protection investigators and domestic and international partner agencies.

The investigation began in September 2019 after the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) received a referral from a member of the public who had become aware of an Australian citizen residing in Mongolia, who claimed he was sexually abusing his 12-year-old son. Additionally, the man allegedly sent the member of the public child abuse material (CAM).

Through use of a range of technological tools, AFP investigators were able to identify a man who was residing and teaching at school in Mongolia.

This man arrived at Brisbane International Airport in December 2019 and was subject to a baggage examination by the Australian Border Force (ABF), where investigators seized possession of an iPhone.

A subsequent digital forensic examination of the iPhone revealed a substantial amount of CAM and conversations with likeminded individuals, during which the accused allegedly traded images of child abuse and detailed fantasies about the sexual abuse of pre-pubescent boys. He also allegedly obtained innocuous images of an Australian child actor that he was purporting to be his son.

The man was arrested later in December 2019 as he attempted to leave Australia to return to Mongolia. Additional exhibits obtained by the AFP exposed further offending.

The man pleaded guilty to the following offences at the Brisbane District Court today (Friday, 13 August 2021):

  • One count possessing child abuse material accessed or obtained using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • Two counts distributing child pornography material outside Australia, contrary to 273.5 (1) Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • One count obtaining child pornography material outside Australia; contrary to 273.5(1) Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • Two counts distributing child abuse material outside Australia contrary to 273.6(1) Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of obtaining child abuse material outside Australia contrary to 273.6(1) Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
  • One count possessing child abuse material outside Australia contrary to 273.6(1) Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

AFP Child Protection Operations Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson said this investigation demonstrates how closely Australian agencies and their international partners work together to combat the exploitation and abuse of children.

"Without the cooperation of Mongolian authorities, ABF, Queensland Police Service (QPS) Electronic Evidence Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Attorney General's office, this arrest would not have been possible - it takes a network to break a network, which is why working hand-in-glove across law enforcement to remove children from harm is essential."

"This arrest should serve as a warning that no matter where you are, law enforcement will continue to pursue and apprehend individuals who commit child sexual abuse."

The ACCCE is committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and is at the centre of a collaborative national approach to combatting organised child abuse.

The Centre brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into child sexual abuse and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available.

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.

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.

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