NT News

TO’s child abuse charge

- JUDITH AISTHORPE

A TRADITIONA­L owner from Central Australia was among seven people who faced Alice Springs Local Court charged with child abuse offences.

The case is believed to be linked to a lengthy police operation that targeted online predators trying to groom kids for sex.

Newspaper reports say the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was among the group of seven who will each face charges, including sharing child abuse material and attempting to procure a person under the age of 16.

A relative of the man said his family was devastated to learn of the charges.

“Everyone liked him. I don’t know if it was the alcohol or that he thought he was untouchabl­e because he’s a custodian,” the relative said.

Northern Territory detectives last week revealed they and their federal and Queensland

counterpar­ts had jointly executed 19 warrants between January and March as part of an anti-child abuse operation.

The warrants were executed at various locations in the NT, in the Cairns region and Mount Isa.

Territory police also extradited a 52-year-old man from Balgo in Western Australia.

Fifteen men, aged between 21 and 52, were arrested off the back of the operation for a total of 45 charges, including having indecent dealings with a child aged under 10, sharing child abuse material and using the internet for grooming.

“It’s the first time that we have done such a large-scale (investigat­ion) over a dedicated period of time, working closely with so many other police jurisdicti­ons,” NT Police acting Commander Lauren Hill said. She said four of the alleged victims were based in the NT.

It is understood the investigat­ion was sparked by informatio­n found on devices seized in the troubled outback NT town of Tennant Creek.

Operation May specifical­ly targeted online predators attempting to procure children through internet chat lines.

It was run by a Joint AntiChild Exploitati­on Team, involving investigat­ors from the NT and federal police, Queensland’s JACET and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitati­on.

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