A twisted paedophile has been jailed after pleading guilty to 50 child sex offences involving children in the Phillipines aged as young as three.
Ian Ralph Schapel was sentenced to 16 years with a non-parole period of 10 years after admitting to the sick crimes in the South Australian District Court on Wednesday.
His sentencing followed an international investigation into child sex abuse by the Australian Federal Police and authorities in the Philippines. The investigation also led to the rescue of 15 victims and the arrest of a further five people.
Schapel pleaded guilty to 41 counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child outside of Australia, using a carriage service to access material.
On 74 occasions, Schapel engaged in sexual activity with at least 13 children in the Philippines online using Skype and WhatsApp.
The female victims were aged between three and nine.
He paid some struggling families $30 to make them force their children to perform sex acts online.
He would only pay them at the end of the abuse, and when one refused, he said: “Now you starve.”
The 68-year-old former public servant was first detained in February 2020 when the Australian Border Force examined his bags after returning from overseas.
He was in possession of more than 52,000 images and videos of child exploitation material.
Australian Federal Police Commander Erica Merrin said the case highlighted the force’s commitment to work with partners to protect children across the globe.
“Children are being forced into the most appalling violence and torment on camera by the people who are meant to love and to protect them,” she said via AAP.
“This Adelaide man did not just watch children being hurt, he ordered specific abuse to happen and preyed on the economic vulnerability of the people involved.”
Mr Schapel has been diagnosed with several mental health conditions, including personality disorders, hoarding disorder and adjustment disorder with depression.
But that did not lessen the seriousness of the charges, Judge Cuthbertson said.
“He must have known the consequences of his offending, the seriousness involved and he must have been aware that the financial position of those people would have driven parents and carers to proffer their children as a means to alleviate their economic plight,” he said.
Philippine Police Brigadier General Edgar De Mayo Cacayan said collaboration with the Australian Federal Police should send a strong message to potential child sex offenders in the future.
“You will not buy and sell the sexual abuse of children in the Philippines,” he said.
“We will not allow it and we will be their guardians. We will find you and you will have to answer for your actions in a court of law.”