Childcare predators handed 63-year sentence for abuse

Duncan Murray |

A 30-year-old man who worked at a childcare centre has been sentenced to 37 years’ jail.
A 30-year-old man who worked at a childcare centre has been sentenced to 37 years’ jail.

Two men who committed hundreds of acts of child sexual abuse – including against family members and kids under their watch at a childcare centre – have been handed a combined 63-year sentence for their crimes.

The men, who are aged 25 and 30, used their many victims as “play things” before their arrests in June 2020, a judge declared during their sentencing on Tuesday.

The duo were in a relationship with each other before the busts under an Australian Federal Police-led taskforce that revealed one of the worst child abuse cases in the nation’s history.

The older of the men, neither of whom can be identified for legal reasons, was sentenced to 37 years behind bars at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court.

He was handed a non-parole period of 26 years, meaning he will be ineligible for release until June 2046.

The younger man received a 26-year sentence with a non-parole period of 16 years and nine months, making him first eligible for release in March 2037.

Following their arrests, the men pleaded guilty to hundreds of serious child abuse offences,  including aggravated sexual intercourse with very young children, in March 2022.

The older man, who worked at a childcare centre, was convicted of 248 offences, including 195 acts of a sexual nature against 27 children.

The younger man was convicted of 106 offences, including physical acts against seven children, including some who were the children of his sisters.

Judge Sarah Hopkins said the men engaged in a predatory and persistent pattern of offending, dehumanising their victims as “play things”.

Despite the men’s relatively young ages at the time of the offending – including one being a juvenile when the crimes began – the judge said the “prolonged and egregious” nature of their abuse meant their youth was less significant in determining sentence. 

She noted significant jail time imposed on the men reflected the community’s “abhorrence” for such crimes and the need for general deterrence.

After being employed by a childcare centre in June 2017, the older man recorded hundreds of photos and videos of children, including showing him lifting up their clothing.

The abuse was uncovered when one of the parents told the centre her son complained the man kissed him on the lips and liked “looking at his bum”.

Following an investigation, the man was served a prohibition notice preventing him from working in childcare and education and he resigned from the centre in January 2019.

Police would later recover hundreds of thousands of child abuse images and videos from devices seized from the men.

The older man admitted sharing the material online and collaborating with a network of like-minded persons, the true extent of which remained unknown, the court was told.

AFP Commander Kate Ferry said the operation that led to the men’s arrests uncovered some of the worst offending the agency had ever seen.

“The criminal behaviour of these two men is perhaps the most disturbing representation of what child sex offenders are capable of,” she said.

“Being the systemic sexual abuse of children over many years, across geographical locations and by people who have been entrusted with so much responsibility.”

Both men reported being sexually abused themselves as children, including extreme acts of degradation committed against the older man that were reportedly filmed and posted online.

Judge Hopkins accepted the older man was remorseful but had limited insight into the nature of his offending.

In a letter to the court, the man said: “I confused love, care, trust and affection with abuse.”

He demonstrated narcissistic, pedophiliac and empathy disorders, and had a high risk of future offending – meaning he should never be given access to children, the court was told.

He may also be a candidate for anti-libidinal therapy, commonly referred to as “chemical castration”.

Both men reported being sexually and physically assaulted while behind bars and as a result are being housed in protective custody.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028