Former childcare worker allegedly kept digital library with files named after his alleged victims

The former childcare worker accused of 1623 child abuse offences allegedly kept a digital library of individual files containing images and videos of each of his victims.

Earlier this week, police charged a 45-year-old Gold Coast man with the alleged abuse of 91 young girls across 12 childcare centres in Brisbane, Sydney and overseas between 2007 and 2022.

The charges come after years of investigations by federal, Queensland and NSW police that led to the man’s arrest in August 2022 following the discovery of images on the dark web, which were allegedly created by the man.

Police discovered a hard drive filled with child abuse material of young girls at the man’s Brisbane home, before searching two other Queensland properties and finding other “electronic devices” that were allegedly filled with child abuse material he created.

Assistant Commissioners from Queensland, federal, and NSW police forces announced the man’s 1623 charges on Tuesday. Picture: Mohammad Alfares

In announcing the “chilling news”, police said joint task force – with Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police Service and Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) – reviewed nearly 4000 seized images and videos allegedly created by the man.

A senior police source has since told The Weekend Australian that the former childcare worker allegedly kept a meticulous catalogue of the recordings of his abuse on digital files, labelling them with the victims’ names or nicknames.

Multiple sources reportedly told the publication that the digital library of images assisted investigators in tracking down the alleged victims.

The charges have disturbed Australians nationwide and raised questions about the safety of children in daycare and the vetting of childcare workers; with one child protection campaigner calling for a commission of inquiry.

Queensland police this week said the reports had been investigated, but there was “insufficient evidence to take action against any person based on the evidence available to investigators at that time”.

An internal review of the investigations was completed after the man’s 2022 arrest, which found investigations were conducted “in accordance with QPS policy”.

The Weekend Australian reports that after police discovered the man’s record of alleged abuse, the AFP secretly briefed federal Education Minister Jason Clare – who immediately ordered a national review of child safety last October.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare ordered a national review of child safety in October 2022. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Federal, state and territory ministers reportedly ordered the regulatory review of child safety regulations at a meeting in March.

The former childcare worker’s 1623 charges include 136 counts of rape and 110 counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10. The charges involved 87 child victims from Australia, and four overseas.

The AFP alleges the offending took place in 10 childcare centres in Brisbane between 2007-2013 and 2018-2022, one overseas centre between 2013-2014, and one centre in Sydney between 2014-2017.

The man – who has tertiary science and education qualifications – worked at other childcare centres but the AFP have confirmed that there is no allegation the man offended at those centres.

The AFP is confident that all 87 alleged victims in Australia had been identified and their parents informed of the investigation; the individuals in the alleged child abuse material that were now aged over 18-years-old have also been informed.

Police are still working with international authorities to determine the identities of the four children outside Australia.

QPS Acting Assistant Commissioner Col Briggs said an “extensive examination was launched to identify the children in the pictures” as soon as police were made aware of them.

“The challenges posed by an investigation of this type were significant and officers never gave up on identifying this alleged offender, reminding themselves that everything you do online leaves a trace,” he said.

A regulatory review of child safety regulations was also ordered.

In August 2022, AFP were able to track trace objects identified in the background of the alleged images and videos to a Brisbane child care centre. Following inquiries with the centre, the AFP executed a search warrant at the man’s home in Brisbane on August 20 and arrested him that same day in the city’s southwest.

He was charged with “making and distributing child abuse material that was allegedly posted on the dark web”, after police allegedly discovered a hard drive filled with child abuse material of young girls.

Police searched two other properties, including the man’s Gold Coast home, where they discovered “electronic devices” allegedly filled with child abuse material that he created.

Evidence collected in the raids also allegedly led police to identify complainants across the border in NSW.

In September 2022 the AFP led a joint task force with the QPS and Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) to review nearly 4000 seized images and videos the man had allegedly created.

Victim identification specialists then helped identify 91 children who had allegedly been offended against by the man.

The 45-year-old man has been in custody since August 2022 and will remain so before appearing before Brisbane Magistrates Court on August 21.

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Written by John Smith

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