20 February 2018
Yesterday, in Cebu City, the Philippines, the regional court convicted Australian national Drew Frederick Shobbrook of crimes of Qualified Trafficking in Persons and Possession of Child Pornography with Intent to Sell or Distribute. The Court sentenced Shobbrook to life imprisonment and a total of 3 million pesos in fines.
“The highest value of any society is to protect vulnerable children and the poor from violence. Today’s convictions send a strong message that if you sexually abuse and exploit Filipino children online and create child pornography you will be convicted and sentenced to life in prison,” said Attorney John Tanagho, IJM Cebu's Field Office Director.
On March 22, 2013, four private individuals filed a complaint against Shobbrook, an Australian citizen living in the Philippines, before the National Bureau of Investigation, Central Visayas Regional Office (NBI-CEVRO). These four girls stated that they and other minors had been sexually exploited by Shobbrook.
On April 17, 2013, NBI-CEVRO conducted a rescue and arrest operation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 7 (DSWD) at the apartment of Shobbrook leading to Shobbrook’s arrest under the Anti-Child Pornography Act, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, as well as for Illegal Possession of a Firearm. Accused Leslie Ann Fernandez who assisted Shobbrook in recruiting minor girls was also arrested for violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. Fifteen (15) victims were rescued.
Unable to mount a legal defense, Shobbrook through his cohorts allegedly turned to witness tampering. Justice however prevailed.
"Today, all fifteen (15) victims of Shobbrook’s abuse received justice. IJM applauds NBI and the prosecution and judicial officials involved in this case for administering justice with the utmost objectivity and integrity,” commented Attorney John Tanagho.
In two weeks’ time a team comprised of a Judge of the Australian Federal Circuit Court and Australian barristers will be travelling with IJM Australia staff to deliver trial advocacy training in the Philippines. Their goal is to strengthen capacity locally to convict perpetrators of online sexual exploitation of children.
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