A Hunter Valley man has been charged as part of an alleged international child sexual abuse investigation.
A joint operation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Philippine National Police began after Australian Border Force officers (ABF) allegedly found child abuse material on a 51-year-old man’s phone when he was going through Sydney International Airport on his return from Asia on April 4.
Upon further investigation by the Border Force officers, he was found to be allegedly engaged in conversation with two adult women in the Philippines and encouraged them to produce sexual abuse material of two girls in their care.
It’s also alleged the man sent payments for the production of child abuse material and expressed interest in travelling to sexually abuse one of the young girls.
The man was arrested following a search warrant of his caravan in Victoria by the AFP in May, and the two girls in the Philippines were placed into the care of child protection services last month after a 25-year-old man was arrested in the Philippines who was allegedly pretending to be one of the women the Hunter Valley man was conversing with.
The Hunter Valley man appeared in Downing Centre Local Court again yesterday charged with:
- 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 Act 1995 (Cth);
- One count of using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
- One count grooming a person to make it easier to engage in sexual activity with a child outside Australia, contrary to section 272.15A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
- One count breaching bail, contrary to section 77(1) of the Bail Act 2013 (NSW).
The maximum penalty for those offences is 15 years behind bars.
ABF Superintendent Phillip Anderson said the examination of electronic devices at the Australian border was a critical function in protecting the community.
“Our goal is to protect our most precious national asset – the Australian border. This includes protecting it from people who choose to engage in the worst kind of abhorrent criminal activity,
“I congratulate the ABF officers on the front line who used their intuition to stop and question this man and have subsequently saved two minors from years of alleged abuse.”