JACET investigation leads to international arrest

A man has been arrested overseas for child sexual abuse offences and a child rescued, as a result of cooperation between Australian agencies, including the South Australia Police (SAPOL), Queensland Police Service (QPS), Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), and international authorities.

In late 2021, QPS found a man to allegedly be in possession of child exploitation material and identified links to a South Australian resident. The South Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (SA JACET) – which comprises SA Police and AFP officers - conducted investigations into the SA resident, who was also allegedly found to be in possession of child exploitation material.

As a result of further investigations conducted by the SA JACET, investigators identified a man who was residing on an island in the Indian Ocean, near the east coast of South Africa, who they suspected was sexually abusing a young girl.

The JACET investigators alerted AFP officers based in London, who in turn contacted French authorities who had jurisdictional authority over the island.

On 14 February 2022, French authorities attended the island and arrested the suspect. Upon searching the suspect’s property, authorities allegedly found evidence of the abuse and discovered the man had downloaded more than 30,000 child exploitation images.

The man has been charged with offences relating to the sexual abuse of a child and possession of child exploitation material.

The coordinated efforts of SAPOL, QPS, AFP and international authorities in this case have resulted in the safe recovery of the young girl and prevented further abuse.

The suspect has been remanded in French custody and faces a penalty of seven years’ imprisonment if convicted of the crime.

The trading, downloading, accessing of child exploitation material is not a victimless crime. Every image depicts a child being abused and these actions perpetuate the abuse.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Lambert from SAPOL's Special Crimes Investigation Section said, “People who perpetrate online child abuse offences should be aware that no matter where you are or how remote your location, collaboration between policing agencies across the world is increasing, and the chances of being detected and apprehended is becoming more likely.  This case demonstrates the increasing capability of law enforcement, and their resolve to detect online child abuse and prevent harm to children.”

AFP Detective Superintendent Gail McClure said SA JACET investigators had worked tirelessly after the arrest of the local man to help identify a young child being abused in another part of the world and stop the person allegedly abusing her.

“Social media forums and messaging applications provide easy avenues for child sex offenders to connect and share horrific content with likeminded peers around the world,” she said.

“Child sex offenders are not restricted by state or national borders, however neither are law enforcement.  We are united in our commitment to protect children, wherever they live, and ensure anyone who harms them is identified and brought before the courts.

“This should be a warning to any individual who would seek to prey upon vulnerable children – the AFP and its partners will come for you, no matter where you are in the world - there's nowhere for you to hide,” said Det Supt McClure.

Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report on line at www.crimestopperssa.com.au – you can remain anonymous.

Media enquiries 

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

SA Police Media: sapol.mediasection@police.sa.gov.au

 

If it doesn't add up, speak up. Call the National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400.

Read the AFP Annual Report 2020-21

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

Platypus Online: Read. Discover. Enjoy.