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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Hunter duo charged over alleged child abuse material offences

A man from Charlestown and a woman from East Maitland have been charged with downloading and transmitting child abuse material 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 was transmitting child abuse material over Kik, a mobile messaging app.

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

Subsequent investigations led 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 man appeared in Belmont Local Court on 9 November charged with several offences, including:

  • 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 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) 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);
  • 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’ in prison.

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,” he said.