Weddin man arrested, allegedly caught with about 200 files of child abuse material

Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong -THE CANBERRA TIMES, ACM.
Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong -THE CANBERRA TIMES, ACM.

A 22-year-old man was refused bail at Cowra Local Court on Wednesday after being charged with child abuse-related offences by Australian Federal Police.

An investigation, known as Operation Barosso, began after the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) received reports from the US.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about a Google account used to allegedly upload child abuse material to Snapchat, Discord and Dropbox.

AFP enquiries identified a 22-year-old man from Weddin Shire as the alleged user of the Google account.

Investigators from AFP Child Protection Operations executed search warrants at the man's home on Tuesday, September 7.

During the operational activity, police seized a mobile phone which was forensically examined and found to allegedly contain approximately 200 files of child abuse material, discussions about the abuse of children and sexualised chats on Snapchat with a person aged under 16.

The man was arrested and charged with:

  • Possess or control child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
  • Using a carriage service to solicit child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • Using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to person under 16 years of age, contrary to section 474.27A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offences is 15 years' imprisonment.

AFP Detective Superintendent Craig Bellis said child sex predators can easily target children through social media platforms.

"We encourage parents to know what social media platforms their child is using and implement preventative measures to protect them from child sex predators," Det. Supt. Bellis said.

"Some tips include having the privacy settings of your child's social media account set to 'friends only' or 'private' to ensure they are not contacted by someone wanting to do them harm, and turning off any location settings that could show where your child has been, where they go to school and even where they live."

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 or report online.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available.

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.