Man accused of grooming teen for sex on social media

Detective Senior Sergeant Matt Howard of Toowoomba's Child Protection Investigation Unit is urging parents to be aware of who their children are talking to online.
Detective Senior Sergeant Matt Howard of Toowoomba's Child Protection Investigation Unit is urging parents to be aware of who their children are talking to online. Nev Madsen

THE arrest of a Toowoomba man accused of grooming a young teenager for sex through social media was a reminder for parents to be vigilant and aware of internet predators.

Toowoomba's Child Protection Investigation Unit officer-in-charge Detective Senior Sergeant Matt Howard warned Toowoomba was a big city and not immune from the attacks of internet predators.

"Anyone with access to a computer or iPhone, for example, is susceptible to predators," he said.

"They prey on these kids and, unfortunately, it can happen here."

Snr Sgt Howard could not discuss the details of the case involving a 47-year-old man who appeared before Toowoomba Magistrates Court this week.

The man was charged with a string of child sex matters including five counts of using a carriage service to procure persons under 16 for sexual activity, using a carriage service to groom a person under 16, making and distributing child exploitation material, supplying liquor to a minor at a private place, four counts of rape, two of attempted rape and four of indecent treatment of a child under 16.

While Snr Sgt Howard declined to elaborate on the case, the charges themselves point to the accused having had direct contact with the teenager who was under the legal age of 16.

Snr Sgt Howard urged parents, grandparents, older siblings and anyone caring for young people to take an active role in what they are accessing on the internet and who they are talking to.

"Parents need to have an open and honest relationship with their children and the kids need to be open and honest with their parents as well," Snr Sgt Howard said.

"Sit down with the kids and ask who they are talking to on the internet or by phone.

"It wouldn't hurt for the parents to know what friends their kids have.

"They need to explain to their kids that there are predators out there who won't think twice about trying to procure them (via social media).

"And the kids should know that under no circumstances should they ever go and meet with anyone they have met online."

Snr Sgt Howard said it wasn't intended to scare people or make parents unduly concerned but urged them to be vigilant.

"The last thing we want is to see kids caught up in this sort of thing," he said.

"Any child harmed as a result of their naivety is a tragedy."

The 47-year-old accused man has not been required to enter any pleas to the 28 charges he is facing.

He is on bail with strict conditions including being prohibited from using the internet except at work and for work purposes. His case is due back in court in May.


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