Couple committed hundreds of ‘predatory’ acts of child abuse in NSW

Two men who committed hundreds of acts of sexual abuse against children, including family members and those in their care at a nursery, have had their horrific crimes exposed in court.

Warning: This story contains details that readers may find distressing.

The men, aged 25 and 30, were arrested in New South Wales in June 2020 under the national child protection task force, Operation Arkstone.

At the time, the couple were in a relationship, the dynamic of which contributed to the crime, the court was told.

The men pleaded guilty to felony child abuse charges, including aggravated sexual intercourse with very young children, in March 2022.

Despite sitting all day today, a sentencing hearing at the Downing Center District Court in Sydney was unable to review the full list of offenses and postponed handing down the men’s sentences until next week.

The older man, who worked at a daycare, admitted 195 acts of a sexual nature against 27 children.

The young man, who claimed to have been significantly influenced by the other, pleaded guilty to 109 offences, including sexual acts against seven children.

Several of the victims were children of the young man’s sisters.

The older man worked at a daycare in June 2017 as an early childhood educator, during which he recorded hundreds of photographs and videos of children.

The pattern of abuse was discovered when one parent told the center that his son complained that the man kissed him on the lips and liked to “look at his butt.”

Following an investigation, the man received a banning notice preventing him from working in child care and education and resigned from the center in January 2019.

Police later recovered hundreds of thousands of images and videos of child abuse from devices confiscated from the men.

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

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

Despite the men’s relatively young age at the time of the offence, with the older man being a minor when it began, Judge Hopkins said that in light of its “prolonged and appalling” nature, their age was less importance.

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

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

Judge Hopkins accepted that the older man was remorseful but had a limited view of the nature of his offending.

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

The older man demonstrated narcissistic, pedophilic and empathy disorders, and was at high risk of offending in the future, meaning he should never be given access to children, the court was told.

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The younger man was considered to have a better chance of rehabilitation, especially outside of his relationship with the other.

He repented and told his family that he wished he could seek the death penalty because that was what he believed he deserved.

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

The sentencing was set for Tuesday, May 7.