Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
A deputy principal at Kellyville High School in north-western Sydney has been charged with child sex offences after he allegedly attempted to entice who he thought was a 14-year-old girl for sex.
Earlier this month, NSW Police detectives from Strike Force Trawler began engaging online with high school teacher Damian Wanstall from the Hills District after they allege he placed a classified advertisement on the website Locanto.
Mr Wanstall, 47, believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl.
He allegedly engaged in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform on her, while also allegedly making arrangements to meet the girl in Westmead and pay to have sex with her.
On the afternoon of Monday 7 December 2020, Mr Wanstall allegedly finished work at Kellyville High School and drove to a block of units in Westmead where he believed he was meeting the girl following arrangements.
He arrived around 4:30pm, but what eventuated was detectives dressed in plain clothes tackling the maths teacher on the street before arresting him.
The man was handcuffed and forced into the back of a police wagon.
He was transported to Granville Police Station where he was charged with using a carriage service to procure a child under 16 for sexual activity, and using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material.
Mr Wanstall did not apply for bail.
As part of the investigation, a home in Rouse Hill was also raided where police seized several items including a laptop and an electronic storage device.
According to police, the teacher was unaware he was messaging undercover detectives from NSW Police.
In NSW, as outlined in section 66EB(2) of the Crimes Act 1900, it is against the law for an adult person to intentionally procure a child for unlawful sexual activity with that or any other person where that child is under the age of 16 at the time.
breach of this carries up to 15-years imprisonment if the child is under the age of 14. In the event the child at least the age of 14 but under 16, the maximum penalty is 12-years imprisonment.
It is also a crime to engage in conduct that exposes a child to indecent material or provides a child with an intoxicating substance or with any financial or other material benefit in circumstances this is done with the intention of making it easier to procure the child for unlawful sexual activity, pursuant to section 66EB(3). This carries up to 12-years imprisonment in the event the child is aged under 14, and 10 years imprisonment if the child is aged at least 14, but less than 16.
Click here for more on the law on child grooming offences in NSW.
Kellyville High School Community Issued Statement from Acting Principal
Addressing the arrest, Kellyville High School’s acting principal, Mark Burnard, wrote to the school community the following day to advise Mr Wanstall was no longer assuming his duties and he had been instructed not to come to the school.
“It is possible your son or daughter, or a child in your care was a student of the teacher,” he wrote.
“The school counsellor will be available at Kellyville High School each day or by phone… if you wish to seek this service.”
It is understood that Mr Wanstall had worked at Kellyville High School since 2012 and was also a maths teacher there.
He was responsible for students in years 10 and 12.
During his time as Kellyville High School’s deputy principal, Mr Wanstall had also been an advocate of violence against women.
He would regularly socialise with his students.
The news of his arrest came as a shock to parents as they arrived the following day for school drop off.
“I can’t believe it to be honest with you,” one parent told 7NEWS.
Commander of Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Addresses Success of Police Sting
Meanwhile, commander of the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad, Detective Acting Superintendent Chris Goddard, spoke to radio station 2GB of the police sting, saying the operation caught the alleged offender off guard.
“These people turn up thinking that they’re meeting a 14-year-old girl and a couple of my detectives hop out of cars and confront him. I could imagine shock, surprise,” Mr Goddard told the radio station.
“Probably their whole life flashes in front of them, one would imagine,” he continued.
“These offenders come from all walks of life. We have professionals, we have businessmen, tradies, a whole gamut of offenders — there is no stereotypical person who engages online in this space.”
Mr Goddard reassured that police will be working with the NSW Department of Education and Training to examine whether any students at the school were harmed.
“We are online, we are being proactive and we are doing our best to protect the most vulnerable members of our community,” Mr Goddard said.
A representative from the NSW Department of Education and Training also informed, that Mr Wanstall would not be taking any other responsibilities at the department.
“This direction will remain in place while this matter is before the courts,” a statement said.
Strike Force Trawler is an ongoing enquiry by the child exploitation internet unit into the sexual abuse and exploitation of children enabled through the internet and related telecommunications devices.
It includes around 14 personnel who are dedicated to covert online operations to find prospective offenders.
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