Law on Victims Compensation for Victims of Federal Offences in Australia

Poppy Morandin and Jimmy Singh.

 

A Cambodian woman who was kidnapped as a child and forced into sex slavery has launched an Australian first challenge by requesting that a South Australian court should order financial compensation whilst sentencing her abuser.

The unprecedented request has national significance due to how, if successful, the challenge may set a precedent that allows victims from impoverished nations to use Commonwealth law to obtain reparations without a further lengthy and expensive lawsuit.

Geoffrey William Moyle, 46, has plead guilty to five counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 16 outside Australia and four counts of committing an indecent act with a child under 16 outside Australia.

He also pleaded guilty to one aggravated count of possessing child exploitation material and one basic count of possessing child exploitation material.

He sexually abused children in Cambodia over three years and published child exploitation material of his acts online.

The father of two, committed the acts whilst he was working in the country between 2002 and 2005, where he was supposedly trying to ‘aide’ the developing country.

Moyle came under investigation by the Australian Federal Police after Queensland Police identified an Adelaide based IP address and connected it to the posting of child exploitation material on an image-hosting website.

“Love my Asian girls, 8-12 years old but anyone pretty,” boasted Moyle on the website.

The Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team arrested Moyle and seized his computers as well as a USB thumb drive.

On that drive, officers discovered videos of a male sexually abusing young Cambodian girls.

The man in the videos had features distinct to Moyle including a ‘skin tag’ on his thigh, veins, freckles, and other skin markings.

Furthermore, the metadata of the videos was compared to his travel records, which uncovered that the recorded incidents coincided with the 40 trips he had taken to Cambodia.

The USB also contained passwords to notorious child exploitation websites on “dark web”.

Moyle pleaded guilty to all charges in January last year.

In January of this year, the court was scheduled to hear sentencing submissions for Moyle, however, a victim’s challenge has caused further proceedings.

The woman is one of the girls Moyle abused while visiting a Cambodian brothel.

She was kidnapped as a child, forced into sex work against her will and is now being represented without charge by Jonathan Wells QC.

Wells told the court that while existing Commonwealth law allowed a victim to ask for “reparations” from a sex offender, no overseas complainant had ever attempted to do so.

“There is a national significance to this, and to the approach Your Honour takes,” commented Edward Stretton-Smith, for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Moyle has since consented to having his assets frozen ahead of the legal bid.

Law on Victims Compensation for Victims of Federal Offences in Australia

Pursuant to section 21B of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), a court may order an offender to make some form of payment to a victim of crime.

Victims must let the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions know prior to sentencing if they want the court to make a reparation order on their behalf.

Documentation that may be provided to the prosecution includes medical bills or receipts for counselling that are related to the crime.

A reparation order may be raised where the offender has been found guilty at a trial or hearing or entered pleas of guilty regarding a federal criminal offence, or offences.

How it works? A person who is convicted of a federal offence or he/she is sentenced without conviction for a federal offence, the court is permitted, in addition to the penalty imposed, order that the offender make reparation to the victim by way of money payment or otherwise in respect of any loss suffered or any expense incurred by reason of the offence.

However, section 21B(2) clearly states that a person is not to be imprisoned for a failure to pay an amount required to be paid under such an order.

Sexual intercourse with child outside Australia is a federal criminal offence, under section 272.8 of the Criminal Code Act 1995(Cth).

A person commits an offence if the person engages in sexual intercourse with another person (the child), the child is under 16 and the sexual intercourse is engaged in outside Australia.

Maximum penalties of 25 years imprisonment apply.

The maximum penalty for engaging in sexual activity (other than sexual intercourse) with a child where the sexual activity occurs outside Australia is 20-years imprisonment.

Tough laws in order to curb the offence were enacted in order to help prevent the global phenomenon of ‘child sex tourism’ in which offenders travel away from their home country in order to have sexual contact with children.

Have a question? Get in touch with our experienced criminal lawyers Newcastle branch or Sydney branch.

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