Far North Queensland Man jailed for possession of over half a million files of child abuse

hand holding handcuffs

This a joint release between the Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police Service and Philippines National Police

A 76-year-old Innisfail man has been jailed for the possession of over half a million files of child abuse material and five children rescued from harm in the Philippines following a multi-national investigation into the sexual abuse of children.

The Innisfail man was jailed yesterday (1 February 2022) for six years, with a non-parole period of three years, after being found guilty of a range of child abuse material offences as a result of an investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Philippines National Police (PNP).

AFP investigators, working with officers from the QPS, conducted a search warrant at the man's Innisfail home on 27 April 2019, following intelligence gathered about the man's activities by the AFP.

Forensic analysis of digital media and storage devices located at the home saw investigators uncover and identify over 500,000 files of child abuse material.

The man was charged with procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside of Australia and possessing child exploitation material.

Further investigations by AFP officers discovered the man had sent over $160,000 to people based in the Philippines to facilitate the sexual abuse of children. Investigators also identified people in the Philippines suspected of being involved in the abuse of children.

The AFP's International Command in the Philippines referred intelligence to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC), of which the AFP is a partner agency.

On 10 October 2020, the Philippine National Police Women and Children's Protection Centre Visayas Field Unit executed a search warrant in the province of Biliran, where five people were arrested.

This resulted in five children, aged between 14 and 17, being rescued from further online sexual exploitation.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the operation showed how the AFP works with police in Australia and overseas to target those funding the abuse of children.

"The amount of child abuse material uncovered in this investigation alone is horrifying and shows the scale of the problem facing modern law enforcement," she said.

"The AFP will never stop investigating those who fund or facilitate the sexual abuse of children and we will use every resource, including our networks in Australia and abroad, to put these people before the courts and remove children from harmful situations, no matter where in the world they may be."

AFP Detective Superintendent Andrew Perkins, Senior Officer Manila, said the AFP's International Command collaborated closely with Philippine authorities through the PICACC.

"The work of the PICACC continues to help law enforcement around the world counter online child exploitation and remove victims from further harm," he said.

QPS Acting Chief Superintendent Kev Goan said the conviction and sentencing was testament to collaborative efforts of law enforcement operating in North Queensland to not only keep the community safe, but to advance investigations protecting children living offshore.

"We remain resolute in our commitments with partner agencies to prosecute persons engaged in this abhorrent crime type at every opportunity," he said.

Police Brigadier General Alesandro Abella, Chief of the PNP Women and Children Protection Centre said; "this outcome highlights the close partnership between the Philippine National Police and the Australian Federal Police and our shared commitment in protecting children and arresting and prosecuting child sex offenders, irrespective of their location."

The PICACC has undertaken 155 operations that have resulted in the rescue of 473 victims since its inception in February 2019. Ninety-eight suspects/facilitators have been charged and 20 offenders have been convicted. Australian-based investigations led to the arrest/charge of 40 suspects and the removal of 160 children from harm.

Further details on the PICACC can be read in the Inauguration of the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center media release.

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.

You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available, visit the ACCCE to learn more.

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.

Editors note

Media are reminded of their obligations under s15A of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW) and s105 of the Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW).

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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Read the AFP Annual Report 2020-21

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

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