Predators who abuse kids or access child porn will face tough new laws, including more time behind bars

PAEDOPHILES would spend longer in jail, be less likely to be granted bail or parole, face mandatory minimum sentences and be more closely supervised following their release under tough new laws being proposed by the federal government.

Internet companies that do not immediately report abuse material to police would also face tougher fines as part of the shake-up.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan will reveal the crackdown to MPs at a meeting in Canberra today before legislation goes to parliament later this week.

Sickos who abuse, seek out, facilitate the transmission of or create sexually explicit material of children would face mandatory minimum sentences of 25 per cent of the maximum penalty in an unprecedented move by the federal government.

In the past five years, barely half of convicted Commonwealth child sex offenders received a term of imprisonment and for those that did, the most common period was six months.

Mr Keenan told News Corp Australia he wanted to see those who harmed children spend more time behind bars for their heinous crimes.

“Harming kids is the worst form of crime but this is not being reflected in the punishments these criminals have been given for their horrible actions,” Mr Keenan said.

“We want to strengthen all aspects of sentencing paedophiles that reflects our disgust at those that prey on children. These reforms are the strongest crackdown on paedophiles in a generation.”

Under the current legal system paedophiles who use a carriage service — such as social media, online websites or even telephone communication — to abuse children or obtain child sex material are charged under Commonwealth law.

Cyber child sex crime is a growing problem in Australia and internationally. But since 2012 only 58.7 per cent of convicted Commonwealth child sex offenders were jailed. Most received just six months.

The new laws would prevent judges from using an offender’s standing in the community to discount their sentence and it will also make it compulsory for the courts to have regard to the objective of rehabilitating the offender.

Internet service providers such as Telstra, iiNet and content hosts like Facebook and Twitter would face an increase of fines from $21,000 to $168,000 per failure to report child sex content on their platforms.

CHILD PORN CASES SOAR
The proposed laws come as News Corp Australia can also reveal the efforts the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has been making to remove child sex abuse material off the web.

During National Child Protection Week last week the Office completed a record 1002 investigations into child abuse material, encompassing 12 hours and 51 minutes of video content.

The work represented a 507 per cent increase on the average weekly investigations of 165.

A total of 4693 images were referred to international partners for take down last week.

The Office has also detailed how, through working with an Australian state police force, it helped identify an Australian male (via his distinctive tattoos) who uploaded a video of him abusing his young granddaughter, a child he named.

The information was passed to police for further investigation.

ESafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said while her team took down a record amount of content during last week’s National Child Protection Week, there was more work to be done.

“While their success last week was heartening, we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“We estimate that our actions have prevented an astounding 51 million page views of illegal content — per day.”

HOW SENTENCES WOULD CHANGE
Any final sentencing will be up to judicial discretion and will take into account various factors.

Victoria

An associate of Peter Gerard Scully (name suppressed).

Over a period of about two years, the offender created and controlled multiple child pornography and child abuse sites. The sites formed one of the biggest online child abuse networks with some of the worst content in the world. The offender strongly encouraged others to make, discuss and view this material, including encouraging someone to videotape himself sexually abusing a paralysed child. The offender also shared a video called ‘Daisy’s Destruction’ that showed an infant being tortured, including being tied up, gagged, penetrated, burnt, trussed up by the legs to a pole and suspended in the air while being tortured.

Sentence now: The offender has been convicted of 13 offences.

Sentence possible under new rules: Minimum sentence of 65 years imprisonment for a conviction of 13 offences, however that sentence may be lowered on judicial review.

Queensland

[R v Williamson [2011] QDC ]- December 2011 known in the media

The offender was the administrator of a highly frequented website which made available at least 15,375 images of child abuse material.

The children depicted had an average age of 8-14 years but also included younger children.

The offender was responsible for categorising material on the website. He was fully aware that the website provided child abuse material to its users.

Sentence now: 3 years 6 months imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 12 months in custody, for using a carriage service to make child pornography available. There was no offence in the Criminal Code that adequately covered the behaviour of creating and administrating a website to facilitate dealings with child abuse material.

The proposed ‘electronic service’ offence will more explicitly criminalise this behaviour.

Sentence under new laws: The offender could be charged under the new ‘electronic service’ offence which will attract a minimum sentence of 5 years, and a maximum sentence of 18 years. The offender would also be subject to the presumption in favour of cumulative sentencing, if multiple offences were proved.

New South Wales

[R v Meads (2015) NSWDC]

The offender was grooming young boys aged of 10 and 14 by sending them, and urging them to send him, sexually explicit pictures. He also kept a manifesto that described in explicit detail the appearance and nature of sexual acts performed by each of his victims.

The offender had a serious criminal history.

His new charges related to producing and disseminating child abuse material, using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to a person under 16 years of age and failing to comply with the child protection register.

Sentence now: 3 years 3 months with a minimum of 2 years in custody for all of his 14 Commonwealth and State child sex offences.

Sentence under new rules: Minimum of 70 years imprisonment under new cumulative sentencing, however that sentence may be lowered on judicial review.

South Australia

Laurence Mark Reilly

Reilly was found to have in his possession over 28,000 child abuse images and videos. The images and videos contained victims that were under the age of 14, and a significant proportion of these images and videos were in the highest category of seriousness. Reilly had also shared the images with a number of other offenders. Reilly had previously been convicted for indecent assault and for possessing child abuse material. While on bail for these offences, the offender accessed a further 6,800 child abuse images and videos. Reilly was convicted of eight charges including aggravated possession of child abuse material and aggravated dissemination of child abuse material. Reilly was sentenced to a non-parole period of five years and three months.

Sentence now: 7 years and a non-parole period of five years and three months.

Sentence under new rules: Minimum of 40 years imprisonment based ona conviction of eight offences, however that sentence may be lowered on judicial review. Reilly would also be subject to a presumption against bail as he is a repeat offender.