UPDATE 4.40pm: A 68-year-old Bendigo man has been charged with serious child exploitation offences after an investigation by the Victorian joint anti-child-exploitation team.
Howard Hawke was arrested today by officers from the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police at his home and faced the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court this afternoon.
Police also seized a number of electronic devices for further examination.
It will be alleged in court that Mr Hawke was actively planning to travel overseas with the intention of sexually exploiting a young child.
Mr Hawke has been charged with procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside Australia, encouraging others to engage with a child in sexual activity outside Australia, preparing or planning to engage in sexual activity with a child outside Australia and possessing and transmitting child pornography.
The maximum penalty for these offences is 20 years imprisonment.
AFP victim-based crime manager, commander Lesa Gale, said the co-operation of law enforcement agencies continued to be integral in the ongoing fight against those looking to exploit the most vulnerable members of society.
“All police working in this area are committed to ensuring the safety of children and young people, no matter where they are. We will always work co-operatively and swiftly to prevent the sexual exploitation of children anywhere, at any time,” she said.
Detective inspector John Manley of the Victorian joint anti-child-exploitation team commended the work performed by a number of Bendigo police units who brought this matter to the attention of the JACET.
Investigations remain ongoing and further arrests have not been ruled out.
EARLIER: A 68-year-old man has faced court charged with five child sex and exploitation charges, including procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside Australia.
Howard Hawke appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Friday afternoon following his arrest earlier in the day in Kangaroo Flat.
He was also charged with encouraging child sex offences outside Australia, preparing or planning to engage in child sex offences outside Australia and possessing and transmitting child pornography.
Mr Hawke did not apply for bail but duty solicitor Robert Timms indicated he intended to do so at a later date.
Mr Timms said his client’s custody management issues included the fact he was “elderly and rather frail” and required blood pressure medication.
Mr Hawke was remanded in custody and will return to court on August 2.