MP’s plan for tougher child exploitation penalties
Ninderry MP and Shadow Police Minister Dan Purdie has outlined plans to crack down on child abuse and exploitation material offenders.
The former child protection detective said the recent case of Coast grandfather David Clive Whitehead, who last month avoided jail time after Australian Border Force officers stopped him at Brisbane International Airport with almost 89,000 child abuse images, had reinforced his desire to toughen the laws.
Whitehead pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 months' jail, wholly suspended, and was ordered to remain on a good behaviour bond for two years.
Mr Purdie said Shadow Attorney-General David Janetzki had written to AG Yvette D'Ath, pushing for an appeal of Whitehead's sentence, but had been directed to Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter.
He said it was the latest in a string of light sentences of child abuse material and child exploitation material offences.
Ms D'Ath's office told the Daily the prosecution was brought under Commonwealth law, "so any right of appeal rests with the Commonwealth Attorney-General".
Mr Purdie said he was disappointed Ms D'Ath and her office wouldn't explore what options there were available, as he said there had been two counts of knowingly possess child abuse material, a state-based offence, in Whitehead's case.
Whitehead also pleaded guilty to attempting to export goods without approval.
An Australian Border Force statement said the maximum penalty for the import or export of child abuse material was 10 years' imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $525,000.
"Behind every image is a kid … sometimes even toddlers," Mr Purdie said.
He said police officers spent weeks poring through child abuse images to categorise them when offenders were caught, a process which was damaging to mental health.
"It does break a lot of people," Mr Purdie said.
Mr Purdie said experts had identified a correlation between possession of child abuse and exploitation material and "contact offending".
He said across the board child sex offence punishments weren't matching community expectations.
He wanted mandatory sentencing brought in to match federal measures recently introduced.
"I think it's very timely that we look at our corresponding state legislation (around child exploitation material) to ensure that it's in line with the federal legislation," Mr Purdie said.
"It's a risk to the community that courts aren't taking appropriate action.
"It's a slap in the face every time one of these offenders gets a slap on the wrist."
Mr Purdie referred to another local case, former University of the Sunshine Coast student Nicholas Stanton Battle Slaughter, who avoided jail time in April last year.
Slaughter pleaded guilty to a range of charges, including indecent dealing of a child under 16, making and possessing child exploitation material and using a carriage service to solicit child pornography material.
He was sentenced to 18 months' jail, wholly suspended for three years.
During police investigations, officers unearthed around 5000 photos and 150 videos of child exploitation in Slaughter's electronic devices.
The material included footage of an adult male raping a toddler, another of a small child forced to perform an act on an adult and images of five-year-old boys forced to perform sex acts on each other.
Mr Purdie said he was in the process of drafting up new legislation to tackle these types of offences, to try and better align sentences with community expectations.