Charges laid over group helping parental abductions of children

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has arrested three men and served a Court Attendance Notice on another woman as part of a long-running investigation into people assisting the parental abduction of children across Australia.

Two Grafton men are scheduled to face Grafton Local Court this morning on charges related to their alleged roles in organising and financing activities that resulted in the abduction of three children in contravention of family law orders. All three have since been safely located by the AFP.

An 83-year-old Townsville man was charged for his alleged involvement in assisting the two Grafton men in their activities. He is scheduled to appear before Townsville Local Court today.

A Prosecution Notice was yesterday served on a 78-year-old Perth woman for her alleged role in this criminal activity.

AFP investigators executed 10 search warrants in the NSW towns of Grafton and Dubbo, along with locations in Perth – included a sailing vessel – and another on a Townsville residence.

It will be alleged in court that a 64-year-old man arrested in Grafton yesterday morning was the key financier and organiser of efforts to help two separate women abduct their children – contrary to family law orders – and conceal them from authorities.

It will be alleged in court that a 63-year-old Grafton man was a co-organiser of efforts to assist two separate women abduct and hide their children. It will also be alleged that he assisted in the movement of money to these women and actively tried to portray the fathers in these matters as child abusers in social media and other public forums.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz, Assistant Commissioner Crime Operations, said investigators had disrupted an organised and well-resourced group of people demonstrating a complete disregard for the rule of law and decisions of the courts.

“The actions of this group do not protect children. What it does is potentially endanger the safety and wellbeing of them,” she said.

“During this two-year investigation, 10 missing children have been safely located in the custody of a parent who has abducted them. Five of these are believed to be linked to this group of people.

“I would also like to thank our partners at the Queensland Police Service for the assistance they have provided throughout this complex investigation.

“We believe this group has sought assistance from other people – some who may be unaware of their involvement in criminal activity – so we are urging anyone with any knowledge about these activities to come forward to the AFP.”

The 64-year-old Grafton man has been charged with the following offences:

  • Two counts of conspiracy to defeat justice, contrary to section 42(1) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), punishable by imprisonment for 10 years.
  • Deal in the proceeds of crime to the value of $100,000 or more, contrary to section 400.5(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), punishable by imprisonment for 15 years.

The 63-year-old Grafton man has been charged with the following offences:

  • Two counts of conspiracy to defeat justice, contrary to section 42(1) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), punishable by imprisonment for 10 years.
  • Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence, contrary to section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (QLD), punishable by imprisonment for three years.
  • Publish an account of proceedings, contrary to section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth); punishable by imprisonment for one year.

The Townsville man was charged with the following offences:

  • Deal in the proceeds of crime to the value of $10,000 or more, contrary to section 400.6(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), punishable by imprisonment for 10 years.
  • Deal in the proceeds of crime, contrary to section 400.8(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), punishable by imprisonment for two years.
  • Aid and abet the publication of an account of proceedings, contrary to section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), by virtue of section 11.2 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); punishable by imprisonment for one year.

The 78-year-old Perth woman is scheduled to face Perth Magistrates Court on 14 December 2018.

The investigation into this matter remains ongoing and further arrests cannot be ruled out.

***Editor’s note: Images of the operation are available to download:

https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/LS7crZWgK7

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