A 20-year-old Katherine man has been arrested and charged for accessing and distributing child abuse materials from the dark web after authorities raided his property and found devices containing child abuse materials.
The AFP launched an investigation into the man after receiving a report from the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about a person in Katherine allegedly transmitting child abuse material via a social media application.
Police did not disclose which social media platform was used.
The Northern Territory Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (NT JACET) and the AFP executed a search warrant at the offender’s home in Katherine and found child abuse material stored on two mobile phones and a laptop computer.
Authorities said some of the illegal online activity was allegedly transmitted from the man’s Katherine residence. It was unclear in what other places the transmissions allegedly occurred.
“Our members drove six hours to reach this rural warrant location. It does not matter where you are in Australia: a city, the outback, a regional town – our members will do what it takes to protect our children,” AFP Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson.
The man also had several virtual private network applications and browsers capable of connecting to the dark web on his electronic devices, NT JACET said.
Police said he had been accessing child abuse material from dark web sites and transferring it to his mobile telephones.
He is expected to face court Friday on two criminal charges including accessing child abuse material through a carriage service and possession or control of child abuse material accessed through a carriage service.
The offences carry a maximum penalty of 15 years of imprisonment.
A detailed forensic examination of the seized devices is ongoing, police said.
AFP Superintendent Hudson said the online demand for child abuse material fuels the physical harm of children.
“Each image and video show a child having their innocence stolen and anyone who accesses this horrific content is complicit in the abuse,” she said.
NT Police Detective Sergeant Paul Lawson of the NT JACET said their team will continue to crack down on those who believe they can stay anonymous on the dark web.
The most recent child abuse material arrest follows other recent arrests in the NT
In September, a 66-year-old man from Bellamack in Palmerston was arrested and charged with possessing child abuse material.
Another 22-year-old man in Jabiru was also arrested in September on five counts of possession of child abuse material.
NT JACET urges the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation to call Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000 or by reporting online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.