Bay man ‘key trader’ in child sex ring, police allege
A 27-YEAR-OLD former childcare worker is facing 303 charges related to child sexual intercourse and indecent assault of 16 children, in one of the biggest cases of its kind in Australian law enforcement history.
A 29-year-old man from Hervey Bay has also been charged in relation to being a 'key trader' of child abuse material.
As part of the massive operation , police in three states arrested 14 men, now facing 828 charges related to what investigators have described as "abhorrent" systemic sexual abuse of children, some just babies.
Raids in NSW and Queensland led to another two men being charged with child abuse offences, but seized material suggests more offenders nationally will be uncovered.
"Police will allege Operation Arkstone revealed a network of abuse, where the alleged offenders in the forums encouraged and emboldened each other to engage in acts of depravity and abuse of children," AFP acting commander Child Protection Operations Christopher Woods said.
Some sexually abused the children, ranging in age from 16 months to 15 years, recording the abuse to share across online platforms. There were 39 victims in NSW - with 16 of those from one childcare centre - one in Queensland and six in WA.
Another 30-year-old St Clair man allegedly used his position as a soccer coach and through familial links to abuse seven children, producing a large quantity of abhorrent child abuse material to circulate.
He currently faces 44 charges as well as bestiality offences.
In their network were a retail assistant, a supermarket employee , a chef, a disability support worker, an IT worker, an electrician and a court officer.
Victims were identified through seemingly minor details in photos and videos, painstakingly analysed, which took AFP agents most of 2020.
The case came to light when the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) in February received a report from US counterparts about an online user accessing material. A 30-year-old Wyong man was arrested in February and charged with abusing two children, but a forensic search of his mobile phone revealed a huge network sparking the creation of Operation Arkstone and bringing in police from NSW, Queensland and WA.
Operation Arkstone investigators identified links through the online forums to alleged child-sex offenders in Europe, Asia, United States and Canada, and New Zealand, with 146 international referrals made.