Thai modelling agent charged with child sex abuse after Australian tip-off

This is a joint media release between Australian Federal Police and South Australia Police

An alleged child sex offender has been arrested in Thailand after the children's modelling agency he owns was linked to a global child exploitation ring investigated by the South Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (SA JACET).

The Thai Department of Special Investigations has charged the 28-year-old Thai national with a range of offences, including sexually assaulting children aged under 13 and taking away children aged under 15 for indecent purposes.

Thai authorities allege he was using the modelling agency as a 'front' to access and abuse children, then record and distribute footage and images of the horrific crimes.

The man was first arrested in May 2020 after Thai authorities searched the modelling agency's headquarters while investigating the alleged activities of another man identified as part of a SA JACET investigation.

Police in Thailand seized several electronic devices allegedly containing more than half a million files of child abuse material and charged the 28-year-old with possessing the illegal content.

On 11 February 2021, Thai DSI searched the 28-year-old's home, which is also used as the offices of the modelling agency, and charged him with the further offences.

The international investigation – which started in Asia – has already led to the jailing of nine offenders in Thailand and Australia since May 2018.

It has also resulted in the identification of over 100 child victims, including the removal of numerous children from immediate harm in Australia and overseas. Australian Federal Police Commander Asia Peter Sykora congratulated the Thai Department of Special Investigation on their investigation and charging of the 28-year-old.

"This significant result is a testament to their dedication, and shows the impact of law enforcement agencies working together, sharing expertise and intelligence," Commander Sykora said.

"The AFP and our partners in Australia and overseas have the same determination to protect and remove children from abuse and bring their perpetrators to justice.

"There are no borders when it comes to protecting children and investigations are ongoing to identify and rescue victims wherever they are located."

SA JACET, which consists of Australian Federal Police and South Australia Police officers, launched Operation Bayldon in late 2017 after a referral from Interpol. The Interpol Crimes Against Children, Asia, with assistance from Thai Department of Special Investigation, identified a website trading in pay-per-view child abuse material, featuring boys from Asia.

An administrator of the abhorrent website, a Thai national, was found to live in Adelaide. In January 2018, simultaneous searches were conducted in Thailand by the Department of Special Investigation, and in Adelaide by the SA JACET, resulting in the arrest of offenders in Australia and Thailand.

SA JACET investigators reviewed more than 850,000 video and image files seized from the Adelaide-based site administrator, which showed him sexually abusing multiple children, including babies.

In May 2019, he was sentenced to 40 years and three months' in jail in Adelaide for his crimes – the longest sentence imposed for child sexual offences in Australia at the time.

During the investigation, SA JACET identified and shared information about other perpetrators and victims in Thailand with the Department of Special Investigation, leading to further international arrests. South Australia Police Detective Chief Inspector Richard Lambert, Acting Officer in Charge of Public Protection Branch, said the positive outcome of this investigation has resulted in the removal of children from further harm.

"It is this type of result that motivates all police officers to persist in their quest to detect and apprehend child sex offenders, who take advantage of our must vulnerable people," Detective Chief Inspector Lambert said.

"SA JACET will continue to pursue child sex offenders wherever they may hide."

The United States' Homeland Security Investigations and New Zealand Police have also provided vital assistance during the long-running investigation.

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.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available, visit the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation 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.

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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