First Operation Arkstone offender to be sentenced in Queensland

A 23-year-old man charged under Operation Arkstone yesterday became the first Queenslander sentenced for his role in the large-scale online child abuse network.

The man, charged with multiple child abuse offences, including producing child abuse material, using a carriage service to transmit and possess child abuse material, and bestiality offence, received an 18 month jail sentence in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court.

He was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment with a non-parole period of four months.

The man was charged in May 2020 as part of Operation Arkstone, a nationwide child protection operation where details were announced in November 2020.

The AFP found 23 videos containing child abuse material on the man's electronic devices. The items were seized during the search warrants executed at the man's home in Hervey Bay in May 2020.

Operation Arkstone was launched in February 2020 following the arrest of a 30-year-old Central Coast man for child abuse offences. The initial referral was made to the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) from the United States' National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Child protection investigators uncovered a global online network of alleged child sex offenders after examining evidence seized in February 2020.

The investigation has resulted in the arrest of 20 men in Australia for 1297 offences and has removed 55 Australian children from harm.

AFP Senior Constable Alexander Evans said viewing and sharing videos of children being abused fueled a horrific industry centred on the exploitation of some of most vulnerable in our society.

"No child should ever experience the horrific acts depicted in the videos and images that we as child protection investigators have to examine every day," Senior Constable Evans said.

"We are determined and passionate about following every lead to identify alleged child sex offenders and ensure the safety of every child in our community from such abhorrent abuse." 

Notes 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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