Operation Arkstone: Townsville man jailed for multiple child abuse offences

Child_Exploitation

A 33-year-old Townsville man who is connected to an international online child abuse network received a maximum two year jail sentence by the Townsville District Court yesterday (10 February 2022).

The Brisbane Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team arrested the man at his home in Mundingburra on 6 November 2020, following an Operation Arkstone investigation into child abuse videos shared through a messaging application.

The man pleaded guilty to seven charges in August 2021:

  • One count of solicit child pornography material, contrary to section 474.19(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth);
  • Two counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16, under 12, contrary to section 210(1)(d)&(3) of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld);
  • Two counts of involve child in making child exploitation material, contrary to section 228A of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld); and
  • Two counts of use carriage service to transmit child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

He is eligible for parole on 10 August 2022, due to state and Commonwealth terms of imprisonment being served concurrently.

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

The nationwide operation began in February 2020 when investigators from Eastern Command Child Protection Operations arrested a 30-year-old Central Coast man 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 the first arrest has to date identified 56 child victims in Australia, who have been removed from further harm. Twenty-five Australian alleged offenders have been charged with 1340 offences.

AFP Constable Tom Clayworth said our role is to ensure children are safe from the horrifying situations that fuel a global industry.

“Each Operation Arkstone arrest led to more offenders being charged and more children being rescued from future harm,” Constable Clayworth said.

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. 

Members of the public who have information about 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.

Editor’s Note:

Latest Operation Arkstone infographic is available via hightail

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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