Queensland police race to locate 80 alleged paedophiles
- Category: Police corruption and brutality
- Created: Tuesday, 17 March 2009 20:59
- Written by Michael Wray and Jodie Munro O'Brien - Courier Mail
QUEENSLAND police are racing to find 80 alleged pedophiles before they destroy evidence in one of the nation's largest child pornography investigations.
The case has brought widespread disgust from politicians who were appalled that up to 1500 Australians were accused of downloading child pornography in the international sting.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said it made his "stomach turn" and Queensland Nationals MP Vaughan Johnson told Parliament that society would be better off if pedophiles committed suicide before they could abuse children.
Australian Federal Police were yesterday defending their handling of the case after senior Queensland police sources accused them of going public too early, effectively tipping off nearly half the suspects and compromising a six-month-long investigation.
Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson would not criticise the AFP but said he still did not know why they went public before the investigation had been completed.
"We hope that the publicity obviously doesn't adversely affect the operation," he said.
But Queensland police sources revealed the AFP had reversed normal police procedure and set a date to go public rather than wait for the investigation to be completed.
This set off a furious debate between the agencies with Queensland police arguing that locating every suspect and protecting children was more important than publicity.
When the news broke early on Thursday police feared suspects would begin destroying evidence and start preparing to attack officers "knocking on the door".
In the past 24 hours AFP and Queensland detectives have charged four more men with child pornography offences, bringing the total Queenslanders charged to 44.
Nearly 100 men have been charged nationally.
Mr Atkinson revealed that four Queensland children had been identified as victims of abuse but none lived with the alleged offenders.
He said it would take police a maximum of three weeks to find the remaining suspects.
"Our goal is to wrap this up as quickly as possible," he said.
A 61-year-old Queensland man charged by the AFP told Channel Ten last night that he had "stumbled" on to child pornography websites but preferred adult sites.
"Not that I have regularly visited what I believe is abuse sites but I may have stumbled on to some of those sites," the man said. "At times I might have thought I won't get caught."
Noosaville teacher Tony Forder committed suicide on May 5 after being prosecuted over the offences while another accused was cleared of life-threatening injuries after attempting suicide.
Mr Johnson told State Parliament he hoped police brought "these grubs to justice".
"If they all went and did it first up, we wouldn't have this problem," Mr Johnson said.
Men were charged yesterday in Mackay, Ipswich, Gladstone and the Gold Coast.
Need help? Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
#AFP #PoliceCorruption #PaedophileProtection #AustralianFederalPolice