Anonymous tip-off uncovers horrific alleged child abuse in north Queensland

An anonymous call to Crime Stoppers in January has uncovered shocking allegations of consistent and horrific child abuse.

Warning this story contains distressing content

The call led to the arrest of four men charged with the alleged rape and exploitation of children in north Queensland.

The men, aged 19, 21, 22 and 49 face more than 30 charges between them.

These include rape, unlawful carnal knowledge, indecent treatment of a child, permitting abuse of children on premises, grooming, involving a child in the making of exploitation material and deprivation of liberty.

The alleged sexual offences were committed against four children aged between 12 and 15.

However, in some instances, the offences date back to 2014, when a victim child was just five years old.

In a closed session in the Mackay Magistrates Court yesterday, the four men appeared via video link as a representative from Legal Aid Queensland applied for each of their bail.

Each application was denied as details of their alleged offending was outlined.

Abuse over social media

The 22-year-old man faces charges against all four children involved.

During the bail hearing, it was alleged he used social media platform Snapchat to randomly add a 12-year-old girl and groom her to send sexual videos of herself.

The Snapchat logo
It is alleged one of the men used Snapchat to groom a victim to send sexual videos of herself. (Supplied: Snapchat)

Police seized an iPad where they allegedly found saved conversations between the child and the man.

Police prosecutor Sheena Gravino said in initial interviews with police, the accused referred to himself as a ‘pimp’ and a ‘player.’

Other charges involve the 22-year-old being in a relationship with a young child over a period of two years, where in some cases he was having daily sexual intercourse with her.

A third victim indicated she was used to the defendant sexually harassing her.

“She states that he has then grabbed her hand and made her masturbate his penis.”

“There are some eight years [in age] between the parties.”

When the defendant was told he would be remanded in custody and transferred to the Capricornia Correctional Centre he simply gave a thumbs up to the court.

Exposure concerns for young child

During the bail application for the 21-year-old, the man appeared very distressed and loudly sobbed throughout his bail application.

Magistrate Bronwyn Hartigan reminded him regularly that “he must be quiet.”

It is alleged he raped one of the victims in 2016, and recently apologised stating he was “sorry about the damages done.”

Ms Gravino said there are further allegations the offending of that nature has continued over time and across other victims.

Two young girls walking in a tunnel.
There are a total of four complainants against the four men aged between 19 and 49. (ABC News: Luke Bowden)

He was also in a sexual relationship with one of the victims for a period of about six months.

“I do not make these submissions to shame any person in relation to sexual preferences … but I will say there is having a sexual relationship with a child who at that time [was] between the ages of 13 and 15; and if I can phrase it to say, ‘it wasn’t vanilla sex’,” Ms Gravino said.

“There is a witness who provides a version to police that she saw the victim child engaged in that sexual role play … walking the defendant around attached to a chain and collar.”

Ms Gravino highlighted the cumulative exposure to such a young victim.

The court was told the 21-year-old fled from the arresting address carrying a mobile phone and tablet device which have not been recovered.

Alleged victim detained

The 19-year-old man faces eight charges, including unlawfully detaining a victim in a bedroom over a period of several months.

The 49-year-old man faces five charges, dating from 2014 to 2021.

The closed courtroom heard it is alleged he observed sexual acts between different parties and inserted himself into those sexual relations in a number of ways. 

In 2021, the defendant allegedly said to one of the victims that over the years she was vulnerable he had numerous opportunities he could have raped her and he was regretful he didn’t take his chance.

In all cases, Magistrate Hartigan concluded the men were at risk of interfering with witnesses and endangering the safety of the child victims.

All were refused bail and remanded in custody.

They did not enter any pleas and will next appear in court on May 24.

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