Police are warning lower north shore parents and carers to have conversations with their children about online safety, following the arrest of four men for online grooming offences and child abuse material in the last week.
Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Sex Crimes Squad Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU) have charged the men – aged 24, 38, 53, and 68 – as part of ongoing operations under both Strike Force Trawler and Strike Force Trident.
The men were arrested as part of ongoing operations under both Strike Force Trawler and Strike Force Trident.
Details of each arrest are as follows:
- In December 2022, investigators began engaging online with a man from Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old boy and engaged in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform on the child. Following inquiries, a 68-year-old man was arrested about 7.40am last Friday (27 January 2023) at a home in Avalon Beach. He was taken to Manly Police Station and charged with use carriage service to send indecent material to person under 16 and use carriage service to groom under 16 years for sex. He was refused bail to appear at Manly Local Court that day, before he was granted conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday 16 March 2023.
- Last month, CEIU detectives began engaging online with a man from Sydney’s west. Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with 13-year-old twins and engaged in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform on the children and distributed child abuse material. Detectives arrested a 38-year-old man at Girraween about 7am on Monday (30 January 2023) before he was taken to Granville Police Station and charged with use carriage service to solicit child abuse material, use carriage service transmit/publish/promote child abuse, use carriage service-procure under 16 years for sexual activity, and two counts of fail to comply with reporting obligations. He remains bail refused to next appear at Parramatta Local Court on Thursday 30 March 2023.
- Also last month, acting on information from an interstate jurisdiction, detectives began investigating a man allegedly utilising a peer-to-peer file sharing program to upload, share and download a number of files deemed to be child abuse material. About 6.50am on Tuesday (31 January 2023), Sex Crimes Squad detectives executed a search warrant at a home in Quakers Hill and arrested a 53-year-old man. He was taken to Riverstone Police Station and charged with possess child abuse material, and disseminate child abuse material. He was refused bail to appear at Blacktown Local Court that day, where he was formally bail refused to reappear at the same court today (Thursday 2 February 2023).
- Last month, CEIU detectives began engaging online with a man from Bathurst. Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old girl and engaged in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform on the child. Investigators attended a Bathurst home about 6am yesterday (Wednesday 1 February 2023), where they executed a Commonweath search warrant and arrested a 24-year-old man. He was taken to Bathurst Police Station and charged with use carriage service to send indecent material to person under 16, and use carriage service transmit/publish/promote child abuse. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Bathurst Local Court on Wednesday 22 February 2023.
Video courtesy NSW Police.
The State Crime Command’s Sex Crimes Squad Detective Chief Inspector Chris Goddard said these arrests serve as a reminder for parents and carers to be aware of what your children are doing online.
“As kids are headed back to the classroom and using online programs and chatrooms as part of their studies, parents and carers need to engage with their children about their online safety and what programs they are using. As we move towards a more technology-based learning environment, the risks of children engaging with strangers increases.
“Make sure your children know they can approach you at any time to talk about what they find online and if any unknown person tries to chat to them. We want kids to feel comfortable to tell an adult when something’s not right.
“Our covert investigative teams will continue to work with our partner agencies to uncover those who are grooming children and wanting to cause harm in our society,” Det Ch Insp Goddard said.
68-year-old man from Avalon has appeared at Manly Court on child grooming offences. He will re-appear at Downing Centre Local Court on 16 March.
The Sex Crimes Squad comprises a number of investigative teams who lead investigations into adult sex offenders, including the Child Exploitation Internet Unit, Child Protection Register, and Extended Supervision Order teams.
Strike Force Trawler is an ongoing investigation by the CEIU into the sexual exploitation of children facilitated through the internet and related telecommunications devices. Regular covert online investigations are conducted by the CEIU; and police in NSW work closely with their law-enforcement colleagues interstate and overseas.
Strike Force Trident is another ongoing investigation by the CEIU, relating to persons using peer-to-peer technology and applications to disseminate and exchange child abuse material online.