An Adelaide man who sexually abused several young girls in Cambodia and kept a collection of child abuse material was sentenced to nine years and six months’ imprisonment by the Adelaide District Court yesterday (17 September).
The 47-year-old had pleaded guilty last year to 12 offences after an extensive investigation by the South Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team – known as SA JACET – which included comparing his features to those of a man abusing girls in videos posted online.
SA JACET launched an investigation in early 2019 after information was received from Queensland Police about comments on a child abuse website that were suspected to have been posted by someone in South Australia.
The comments included a desire for photographs of Asian girls aged eight to 12 and police inquiries linked the internet subscription details to the Adelaide man.
Man was also a suspect in US investigation
Officers from the team, which comprises Australian Federal Police and South Australia Police, arrested the man in May 2019 after they executed a search warrant at his home and found a USB containing aggravated child abuse material.
They learned the same man had been identified as a suspect in a major operation led by United States Homeland Security Investigations a decade earlier.
The US investigation into an international network of sex offenders – who abused young children and traded images and videos of the offending via an encrypted online ‘bulletin board’ – resulted in more than 70 people being prosecuted.
While the Adelaide man was not charged as part of that investigation, Homeland Security provided Australian police with the data it had collected and suspected to be linked to him, including videos.
Some material found on forums on dark web
Over several months, Australian investigators examined these images, and also found photos and videos on other dark web-based child abuse forums that they connected to the Adelaide man.
Police say the man had recorded the videos of himself sexually abusing the girls in Cambodia but had not kept those digital files on his electronic devices they could access. They found the incriminating evidence only on the hidden websites.
Details about the man’s frequent trips to Cambodia were also collected with the assistance of AFP officers based in Cambodia, with significant support from local authorities and non-government agencies.
“Child sex offenders are not restricted by state or national borders, however neither are law enforcement and their partner agencies, whose focus is protecting children from harm and bringing these heinous offenders to justice,” said AFP Detective Superintendent Gail McClure.
“This should send a clear warning that we are working tirelessly with our partners to expose and hunt down anyone who preys on children – there is nowhere for these offenders to hide.”