Man charged with 116 offences ‘targeted girls online’

Laine Clark |

A Queensland man has been charged by police with 116 child abuse offences.
A Queensland man has been charged by police with 116 child abuse offences.

Children have been warned “stranger danger” can occur in their own rooms after a man accused of targeting minors online was charged with more than 100 offences.

Dion Adam Lingard, 31, is in custody after allegedly grooming two girls – aged between 12 and 14 – online before meeting them in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

After detectives executed a search warrant at a Sunshine Coast property in February, Lingard has been charged with 116 offences.

They include rape, stalking, taking a child for immoral purposes, indecent treatment of a child, possession of and making child exploitation material and supplying dangerous drugs.

“We are still going through a plethora of material that was seized that day,” Detective Inspector Chris Toohey told reporters on Wednesday.

“The material was disturbing.”

Lingard is accused of actively targeting minors online since August 2023.

“He has procured and groomed a relationship online first and then has arranged to meet up with these minors after that,” Insp Toohey said.

“At this stage there are no other victims but we are still proceeding with this investigation.”

Insp Toohey warned parents not to leave their children alone with computers or phones, saying it was “inviting strangers”.

“It is a horrible circumstance for us to get lessons from,” he said.

“The lesson we are going to learn here is that we need to make sure we know what our children are looking at, who they are talking to.

“We need to constantly remind our children that stranger danger doesn’t just happen out on the streets, it happens inside your house and inside your rooms.”

Insp Toohey said support was being provided to the girls and their families as they continued with an investigation that has also affected police.

“It’s very hard and as a father myself you really feel for the parents,” he said.

“It is very difficult to put yourself in their position. It certainly affects the police who are investigating.”

Insp Toohey encouraged parents to work with their children on an agreed list of trusted people they can connect with online and block users not on it.

He said parents should have access to passwords for their child’s devices and also remind their kids to never provide personal details to people online.

Insp Toohey believed it was important parents knew who their children were talking to online and the websites they were using, saying any platform could be targeted.

“It can be a gaming site, it can be a chat site of any description – we are going to find predators looking for ways to meet children online,” he said.

“Predatory behaviour is incredibly manipulative and can include scamming techniques.

“We encourage children to listen to their instincts and tell a trusted adult if any conversation seems ‘creepy’ or makes them feel uncomfortable.”

Lingard has been refused police bail and is due to reappear in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Monday.

AAP