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3 Apr, 2017

Australia nabs child offender, 68, as part of efforts to stop them going abroad

Canberra, 31 March 2017 (Joint media release by the Minister for Justice, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism, and Minister for Foreign Affairs) — Officers from the Australian Federal Police and Victorian Joint Anti-Child-Exploitation Team (JACET) today arrested a 68-year-old man who was allegedly planning to travel overseas with the intention of sexually exploiting a young child.

Thanks to the effective working partnerships in the JACET model, officers from the AFP and Victoria Police arrested the man at his Bendigo home this morning. Police also seized a number of electronic devices for further examination.

It will be alleged this man was actively planning to travel overseas and has been charged with serious child exploitation offences.

Editor’s Comment

Paedophiles deserve to be put in the same category as terrorists. Similar action needs to be taken by the Americans and Europeans to block their paedophiles from leaving their countries in the first place.

For years, lax law enforcement in Asia have allowed paedophiles to prey on children in Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and other countries. Many of them are still operating here, disguised as school-teachers, missionaries, etc. In the past, some are known to have even set up “orphanages” as cover for their devious designs.

If authorities at the point of origin know who they are, the onus is on them to either stop them from leaving the countries, as the Australians have just done, or alerting the authorities at the point of arrival so that they can be denied entry here.

The Australian arrest proves that this can be done. There is no longer any excuse for saying it cannot be be done.

Sexual predators are on notice, the exploitation of young, innocent children – whether in Australia or overseas – is not tolerated and will not go unnoticed by our law enforcement agencies.

This case highlights the critical importance of this Government’s ongoing work in developing measures to prevent child sex offenders from travelling overseas to commit criminal acts against vulnerable children.

Under existing passport legislation, law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities are already able to request the Foreign Minister to cancel sex offenders’ passports or refuse to issue passports.

However, the AFP has advised that in 2016 about 800 registered sex offenders have travelled overseas. It is clear that further action is necessary.

Children must be protected and perpetrators brought to justice, whether a crime occurs in Australia or is committed or facilitated by an Australian overseas. This Government expects to finalise these reforms as a priority.

We commend the AFP and Victorian Police officers for the important work they do to prevent these abhorrent crimes.

The Bendigo man was charged with:

(+) Procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside Australia, contrary to section 272.14 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
(+) Encouraging others to engage with a child in sexual activity outside Australia, contrary to section 272.19 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
(+) Preparing/planning to engage in sexual activity with a child outside Australia, contrary to section 272.20 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
(+) Using a carriage service to transmit pornography, contrary to section 474.19 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
(+) Knowingly possess child pornography, contrary to section 70(1) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

The maximum penalty for these offences is 20 years imprisonment.

AFP Commander Lesa Gale, Manager Victim Based Crime, said the cooperation of law enforcement agencies continues to be integral in the ongoing fight against those looking to exploit the most vulnerable members of our society.

“All police working in this area are committed to ensuring the safety of children and young people, no matter where they are. We will always work cooperatively and swiftly to prevent the sexual exploitation of children anywhere, at any time,” said Commander Gale.

Detective Inspector John Manley of the Victorian Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team commended the great work performed by a number of Bendigo police units who brought this matter to the attention of the JACET.

Investigations remain ongoing and further arrests have not been ruled out.

Footage of the operation can be downloaded here