Two men have been charged with raping a baby girl and sharing disturbing images of her, with a specialist child abuse detective saying the 'abhorrent' allegations are beyond belief.
The two men, who are both aged 50 and live together, were arrested on Tuesday in Melbourne by NSW police and flown to Sydney to face a string of child sexual assault and pornography charges.
Their crimes are said to have been committed over a three-hour period in April last year, in a small town in the state's central west, when their alleged victim was aged just 10 months.
One of the accused men - neither of whom can be named for legal reasons - is understood to be the girl's father.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Yeomans, of the NSW State Crime Command's Child Abuse Squad, said the pair came to police attention after Victorian officers searched a third man's address in March and recovered disturbing material.
'The allegations that are made against these two men are abhorrent. The sexual assault, or alleged sexual assault, of a 10-month-old child is beyond belief,' DCI Yeomans told reporters on Thursday afternoon.
But he said the girl, who would now be just over two years old, was out of harm's way.
'The little girl is fine. She is in care at the moment,' DCI Yeomans said.
Court documents indicate one of the men is accused of taking intimate photographs of the baby, having sexual intercourse with her, and using his mobile phone both to share and solicit child pornography, among other offences.
The second man arrested is accused of having sexual intercourse with the baby and producing child pornography. It is further alleged that he 'did incite the commission' of a sexual assault on the 10-month-old.
The pair did not come up from the cells when their case was briefly brought before Waverley Local Court on Thursday morning.
They did not apply for bail and it was formally refused by Magistrate Michael Barko, meaning the two men will remain behind bars until the case returns to Central Local Court on Tuesday.
The court heard one or both men may make a bail application at that time.
Press Release: Department Of Internal Affairs, New Zealand
A 35-year-old Christchurch man was today jailed for four years and two months on offences involving objectionable pictures of child sex abuse.
Rhys Nathan Firth, 35, knife hand, of Rolleston, appeared for sentence in the Christchurch District Court after pleading guilty to distributing and possessing objectionable videos and images depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, many of them girls aged 10 or younger, including babies and toddlers.
Internal Affairs’ inspectors seized computer equipment, several mobile phones and cameras from his home in September 2014.The two representative charges Firth pleaded guilty to covered the period 1 July 2013 to 22 September 2014 but the Department found evidence that he had been engaging in this conduct since 2002. Firth used a Russian-based website to find contacts to trade material with. He distributed at least 400 objectionable computer files to at least 18 people by email and possessed about 24,000 images and over 1800 videos of children being sexually abused. He also had 5200 image files and over 450 videos depicting bestiality. Firth also pleaded guilty to a further possession charge laid by Police after he engaged in Internet activity in January this year.
The Department’s prosecuting counsel, Tamsyn Badland, submitted that the seriousness of the offending warranted, as a starting point, seven years’ imprisonment.
Significant aggravating factors included Firth’s prolonged, repetitive and frequent offending; offering to exchange non-objectionable pictures of children for child sexual abuse material; paying for material and contributing material to another offender for on-sale; requesting new material and encouraging offenders to send him pictures of their daughters.
Censorship Compliance Manager, Steve O’Brien, said there is a global community, including Internal Affairs, combatting the child sexual abuse trade.
“It’s only a matter of time before people indulging in this activity get caught,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It is important for our community to remember that the children who are featured in these objectionable images are themselves victims, coerced into participating in photographs and films by sick and dangerous people.
“Child sex abuse imagery is not a victim-less crime as it involves real children forced into degrading acts.
“Trading or viewing these images is not passive offending because it condones the abuse children suffer. People, who look at this, pass it on and use it, encourage those who actually photograph the children.”
Northern Ireland: The State has continued to “bully and bullyrag” victims of child sex abuse by threatening them with huge court costs to drop their compensation claims, the Dáil has been told.
Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, said 210 people out of a total of 250 with compensation cases, had been obliged to drop their claims. She said the State Claims Agency had told them they faced tens of thousands of euro in court costs.
Ms McDonald said some people had tried to legally revive their cases for redress in the wake of a European Court of Human Rights judgement in favour of Cork woman, Louise O’Keeffe. She said the State had relentlessly opposed her claim for redress after being abused as an eight-year-old by her teacher.
The Sinn Féin TD said a man named John Allen had his case before the Courts today concerning costs. She demanded that the Government guarantee they would not pursue costs.
“The victims have been bullied and ballyragged,” Ms McDonald said.
Replying for the Government, Education Minister, Richard Bruton, said the victims of many of these cases had received ex-gratia payments. He said he could not give any guarantees on cases before the courts.
“This is a matter for the Courts – not the Oireachtas,” Mr Bruton said.
From BBC Technology
BitcoinsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Bitcoins were starting to prove more popular with sites that trade in images of child sexual abuse, said the IWF.
Bitcoins used to buy images of child sex abuse could soon be tracked and blocked as two companies share data on how the virtual currency is spent.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which tracks abuse sites, is passing data to start-up Elliptic, which helps Bitcoin exchanges monitor transactions.
The data comes from transactions carried out on sites the IWF monitors
The IWF said the "pseudo-anonymity" offered by bitcoins made them an increasingly popular form of payment.
"We are seeing it being used on the more dedicated commercial abuse sites that we monitor on a regular basis," said Sarah Smith, IWF's technical researcher.
Ms Smith said the IWF had first noticed the virtual currency being used in 2014 alongside other payment systems, but its use on abuse sites was growing alongside other illicit use of the virtual cash.
Bitcoins' "pseudo-anonymity" made it a very attractive payment system in criminal circles, she added.
The IWF's work to disrupt abuse sites had left it with a list of Bitcoin addresses associated with sites selling abuse content and their customers, said Ms Smith. This list and any other addresses the IWF finds are being passed to tech company Elliptic to help in its work to curb criminal use of bitcoins.
"This is the first time anybody has started identifying these crimes in Bitcoin and flagging them up in a system like ours," said James Smith, head of Elliptic, adding that it was a "great step" towards eliminating illicit use of bitcoins.
Elliptic analyses the Bitcoin blockchain - the virtual currency's central ledger in which every deal done with the digital cash is recorded - to spot stolen coins, to trace transactions that seek to hide their criminal origins or to conceal the illegal uses to which they are put.
It passes information about the web of dodgy transactions to exchanges and other merchants to help them avoid doing business with "known bad actors" and to stop them being inadvertently enrolled in money-laundering schemes.