Former Sydney teacher sentenced to three years jail for child abuse offences

A 31-year-old Queensland man and former teacher was yesterday sentenced to a maximum of three years’ imprisonment for numerous child abuse offences, following an Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigation.

The AFP received a report from the New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) in December 2018 regarding the illegal conduct of an Australian teacher towards two former students based in the United Kingdom (UK).

The court heard the man sent indecent images and video content to the female students and engaged in sexualised conversations with them. Both students were under 16 years of age at the time. The two students made formal complaints to UK authorities, who reached out to Australian authorities for assistance.

On 29 January 2019, with the assistance of the NSWPF Child Exploitation Internet Unit, members of the AFP’s Eastern Command Child Protections Operations Team executed a search warrant at the man’s then-residence in Bella Vista, Sydney.

Authorities seized numerous electronic devices before arresting and charging the man. The man was later released on strict bail and served with a suspension notice by the NSW Department of Education.

The AFP then laid additional charges following a review of all evidence.

AFP Federal Agent Pierre Spano thanked the two women who alerted UK authorities to the illegal conduct and allowed police to take action.

“We hope the actions of these two brave young women give others the courage to speak up and report this type of illegal behaviour,” Federal Agent Spano said.

“Yesterday's outcome shows that if you or someone you know is a victim of this disgusting crime, the AFP and our international partners will listen, act, and hold offenders to account.

The man, who appeared before the Downing Centre District Court yesterday, was given a non-parole period of 12 months imprisonment. The earliest date he is eligible for release is 23 September 2021. He previously pled guilty to the following charges:

  • One count of using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to person
  • under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.27A of the Criminal Code (Cth);
  • One count of using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to person under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.27A of the Criminal Code (Cth); and
  • One count of using a carriage service to solicit child pornography material, contrary to section 474.19 of the Criminal Code (Cth).

The AFP previously issued a media release regarding this matter on 12 June 2020.

How to report child abuse?

The AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation 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.

You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.

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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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