Sydney man facing 196 child abuse charges

·2-min read

A 31-year-old Sydney man will face a further 152 charges alleging sexual abuse of young children and filming it to share online.

The Australian Federal Police says the man, from St Clair in Sydney's west, will appear at Sydney Central Local Court on Thursday.

He was was initially arrested last May under Operation Arkstone, a large-scale investigation into a global online network of alleged child sex offenders.

He was charged with 44 child abuse offences, including multiple counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10 and is now facing a total of 196 charges relating to child sexual abuse and bestiality offences.

Operation Arkstone began in February 2020 following a report to the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation from the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about an online user allegedly distributing and receiving child abuse material online.

AFP investigators uncovered the network of alleged offenders when examining a mobile phone seized from a NSW Central Coast man during his arrest for abuse offences.

On Wednesday a 31-year-old man became the 20th arrested as part of Arkstone when federal police searched his home at Willoughby in Sydney's north.

He was charged with one count of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed online and using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code. He will appear in Downing Centre Court on April 15.

The investigation has now charged 14 men in NSW, three in Queensland and three in Western Australia.

The group faces a total of 1026 charges related to child sexual abuse and in some cases, bestiality.

Since Operation Arkstone began, there have been 53 children removed from further harm in Australia.

The AFP says it's also made 146 referrals to law enforcement agencies around the world.

Investigators have been sharing intelligence and working with counterparts in Europe, Asia, the US, Canada and New Zealand to identify offenders and children in need of rescue.

AFP Commander Hilda Sirec said every day that police could not identify a child being harmed was another day of potential abuse.

"We need to remove these children from harm and importantly, with law enforcement in Australia and across the globe, we must arrest those who carry out these heinous crimes,'' Commander Sirec said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the prevalence of child exploitation has increased.

"Australia has stood shoulder to shoulder to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We also need the country to use the same sense of purpose and urgency to help fight the exploitation of children," she said.