Operation Arkstone: Queensland man sentenced for child abuse offences

Child_Exploitation

Editor’s note: Latest Operation Arkstone infographic is available via Hightail

A 30-year-old Queensland man, linked to an international online child abuse network, was sentenced to a maximum three years’ imprisonment by the Supreme Court of Queensland yesterday (27 May 2022).

The man is one of 26 Australian alleged offenders who have been charged with child abuse offences.

In May 2020, the Brisbane Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET) executed a search warrant at the man’s home in the suburb of Pialba, following an Operation Arkstone investigation into the sharing of child abuse material online.

The man was issued with two Notices to Appear at Brisbane Magistrates Court in relation to several child abuse material charges:

  • Produce child abuse material, contrary to s474.23 of the Criminal Code (Cth);
  • Four counts of use carriage service to transmit child abuse material, contrary to s474.22(1)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Code (Cth);
  • Two counts of cause child abuse material to be transmitted to self, contrary to s474.22(1)(a)(ii) of the Criminal Code (Cth)
  • Possess child exploitation material, contrary to s228D of the Criminal Code 1899 (QLD).

He was sentenced to a maximum period of three years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of eight months.

AFP Detective acting Superintendent Mary Bolton said the AFP worked tirelessly to prevent child exploitation and abuse.

"We will continue to do everything in our power to protect children and bring perpetrators to justice," Detective acting Superintendent Bolton said.

“Preventing child exploitation remains a top priority for the AFP, we’ll use whatever means necessary and leverage whatever relationship we can to ensure that those who harm our children are arrested and prosecuted.”

The man was identified as part of the AFP-led Operation Arkstone, a large-scale child protection operation.

The nationwide operation began in February 2020, when a 30-year-old Central Coast man was arrested for child abuse offences. The arrest followed a referral to the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) from the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The digital trail from that first arrest has to date identified 56 child victims in Australia, who have been removed from further harm. US Homeland Security has been integral in identifying the online network of alleged child sex offenders throughout Operation Arkstone, which has also resulted in multiple arrests in the United States. Investigations in the US are continuing. 

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the ACCCE is driving a collaborative national approach to combatting child abuse.

The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

Members of the public who have information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.accce.gov.au/report. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.

Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety.

An award winning podcast launched last year by the ACCCE 'Closing The Net' is working to change that, showcasing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to help prevent this issue is if we bring a 'whole-of-community' response.

The podcast series offers valuable tips and advice on how to keep kids safe online. Listen to the Closing The Net podcast on your favourite streaming platform

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available at www.accce.gov.au/support.

Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found at www.thinkuknow.org.au, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

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.

Media enquiries

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

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

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