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Source: Australian Federal Police

A 20-year-old man accused of accessing child abuse material from the dark web is expected to face Katherine Local Court today (9 October 2020) charged with two offences.

The Northern Territory Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (NT JACET) arrested and charged the man yesterday (8 October 2020) after executing a search warrant at his home in Katherine.

Officers from NT JACET, which comprises AFP and NT Police, allegedly found child abuse material stored on two mobile phones and a laptop computer that belonged to the 20-year-old.

The arrest was a result of an investigation launched after the Australian Federal Police received a report from the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about a person transmitting child abuse material (CAM) via a social media application.

Some of the illegal online activity was allegedly transmitted from the Katherine property where the 20-year-old lives.

Police will allege the 20-year-old had a number of virtual private network (VPN) applications and browsers capable of connecting to the dark web on his electronic devices.

It will be alleged he had been accessing child abuse material from dark web sites and transferring it to his mobile telephones.

The man has been charged with:

  • access child abuse material through a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
  • possession or control of child abuse material accessed through a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The offences carry a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. 

A detailed forensic examination of the seized devices is ongoing.

AFP Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson said the online demand for child abuse material fuels the physical harm of children.

“Our members drove six hours for this rural warrant. It does not matter where you are in Australia: a city, the outback, a regional town – our members will do what it takes to protect our children.”

“Each image and video shows a child having their innocence stolen and anyone who accesses this horrific content is complicit in the abuse,” she said.

“Would-be offenders should be warned that encrypted applications will not enable them to stay anonymous. We are working tirelessly with our partners to expose them and put them before the courts.”

NT Police Detective Sergeant Paul Lawson of the NT JACET said, “This is another example of a multi-agency investigations detecting those who try to conceal their identities online and we are dedicated to identifying those who believe they are safe on the dark web”.

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 at www.accce.gov.au/report.

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.

Media enquiries

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

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