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Source: Australian Federal Police

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A 22-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman have been charged with downloading and transmitting Child Abuse Material (CAM) after an Australian Federal Police (AFP) operation.

The AFP began an investigation after receiving a referral from United States Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that an internet user believed to be based in Australia was transmitting child abuse material over Kik.

Investigations by the AFP Eastern Command Child Protection Operations team identified a 22-year-old man living in Charlestown, NSW as the alleged user of the account and a search warrant was executed at his home on 6 November 2020.

Subsequent investigations lead AFP officers to execute a second search warrant at a home in East Maitland later that same evening, where a 22-year-old woman was arrested.

The 22-year-old man appeared in Belmont Local Court on 9 November, 2020 charged with:

  • One count of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • One count of using a carriage service for child abuse material contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

He has been released on bail to reappear on 31 January 2021.

The 22-year-old woman appeared in Maitland Local Court yesterday, (11 November 2020) charged with:

  • Three counts of transmitting child abuse material using a carriage service contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
  • One count of using a carriage service to access child abuse material contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • One count of using a carriage service to solicit child abuse material contrary to section 474.22 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The potential maximum penalty for the offences is 15 years’ imprisonment.

Detective Acting Inspector Matthew Ciantar said the arrests were an example of how one piece of information could uncover a wider network sharing child abuse material.

“These arrests show how vital it is for the AFP to work with our international law enforcement partners and how diligent investigative work delivers results,” Detective Acting Inspector Ciantar said.

HSI Attaché to Australia, Adam Parks said online child exploitation is a global problem that requires a global response.

“When our investigations in the U.S. uncover information pertaining to Australia, we are quick to alert AFP who pursue these offenders with a tenacity that should comfort all Australians while putting fear into the hearts of those who seek to exploit the vulnerable,” Mr Parks said.

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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