A shattered mother has opened up on the nightmare of learning her son’s daycare teacher was allegedly involved in one of the biggest child sex rings in Australia’s history.
Detectives arrested a video librarian at a home on the NSW Central Coast in February, but at the time they had no idea of the alleged horrors they had stumbled upon.
An examination of his phone revealed exposed a horrific network of other offenders – culminating in the arrest of 14 men.
Last week, 46 children – including 16 from one single Australian child care centre, the youngest of who was just 16 months – were rescued from the depraved ring’s grasp.
Parents from the daycare centre were given the news their children were believed to have been sexually abused by a former worker, who is alleged to have recorded the incidents.
The teacher and alleged abuser Timothy Luke Doyle, 27, was known by members of the daycare as a ‘young, fun and caring man’.
But police allege he was part of a global paedophile ring accused of producing and trading child abuse images and videos over the internet.
He has been hit with 303 charges, including indecent assaults of the children and the filming of sex acts.
A mother of one of the children, who was just three years old at the time of the alleged abuse, said she has been consumed by guilt since hearing of the arrest.
The teacher and alleged abuser Timothy Luke Doyle, 27, was known by members of the daycare as a young, fun and caring man
Detectives linked to Operation Arkstone also arrested Doyle’s boyfriend Steven Garrad (right)
‘We feel absolutely devastated something like this could happen here,’ she told The Australian.
Her son, now aged five, can’t remember or verbalise what is alleged to have happened to him, but police allege the boy was indecently assaulted at the daycare centre while being filmed.
‘When we first found out about what had happened from detectives, for the first two weeks, me and my husband, we were just in complete shock,’ she says.
‘My husband was always a bit suspicious of the childcare worker; there was something about him that he thought was a bit off… I didn’t listen and he was right – and now I have to live with that.’
The mother – along with many others in the small NSW town – is demanding to know how the accused paedophile carried out the alleged crimes without being seen by other workers.
She is still consumed with guilt and regret that she had not seen any signs her son was being allegedly abused in 2018.
The mother said she trusted Doyle with her children and still doesn’t understand how it allegedly happened to 16 children without anyone noticing.
Police were first tipped off about the alleged child sex ring by U.S authorities who said Justin Radford, 29 had been allegedly filming himself abusing two young children.
Justin Radford – a TV library assistant for the major networks – was the first of 14 men charged with child abuse offences under the Australian Federal Police’s Operation Arkstone
Police stumbled across the child sex ring after looking through Radford’s phone following his arrest
But an examination of his phone revealed those alleged crimes were just the tip of the iceberg.
Radford’s phone allegedly contained links to an international child abuse syndicate stretching across Australia and the world, with alleged victims in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, Europe, Asia and the U.S.
Radford allegedly used a child under 14 to make child abuse material and incited a child under 16 into a sexual act, while also possessing videos of child abuse on his phone.
The alleged tattooed and spacer-disk earring wearing paedophile described himself on LinkedIn as having worked as a tape library assistant for Channel Nine since 2017.
But he was actually working for a company called NPC, a joint venture between Nine, Seven and Southern Cross Australia. He is no longer employed by NPC.
Shortly after police swooped on Radford and forensic detectives began to comb his phone, they realised the serious links to another alleged ring member in Kendall.
Doyle was the next to be arrested in the small town alongside his partner Steven Garrad, 22.
During a court hearing for the matters last month, an application by Garrad’s family member for his name to be suppressed was refused.
‘In the evidence of [a family member], she says that people are entering her front yard,’ his solicitor Douglas Hannaway said, The Mid-North Coast News reported.
Police search the home of a suspect involved in an alleged child exploitation ring in Australia
Pictured: An iPad seized by Federal Police during investigations in Queensland
‘On five occasions, people came to her home during the night and turned the electricity off. People came into the yard and banged on the side windows.’
But despite their pleas, Magistrate Georgina Darcy ruled both Garrad and his also jailed boyfriend Doyle could be identified.
Police have been clear that those arrests are not linked to the hunt for Australia’s most infamous missing persons case.
Grant Harden, 29, has been charged with sexual offences
As police continued to investigate the ring, they relied on the encrypted messenger service used by the group to communicate.
While Radford was based in NSW, they discovered he was talking to men across the country.
Among them was a 28-year-old from Hervey Bay who was arrested in May.
From there investigators allegedly discovered links to Grant Harden, 29, and in June this year arrested him at his western Sydney home.
Harden, from St Clair, has been charged with offences including raping a child under the age of 10 between 2017 and 2020.
He has also been charged with three counts of intentionally sexually touching a child, and charges relating to possessing and distributing child abuse material.
Court documents seen by Daily Mail Australia also allege that Harden ‘did commit an act of bestiality with an animal… two dogs’.
Two days later, officers arrested an air conditioning mechanic, 48, allegedly known to Harden, after finding child abuse images and video on that man’s computer.
The hunt continued in October when a 40-year-old man from Pialba – a town only a few minutes drive from Hervey Bay – was arrested.
Police have since arrested more suspects (pictured) and laid a total of 828 criminal charges in what they believe is an online domestic paedophile network
Operation Arkstone has seen arrests made across Australia and also in New Zealand, Europe, Asia and the United States (pictured)
Jake Caldwell, 27, was then arrested in November and charged with four offences related to possessing and accessing child abuse material.
In total, 828 charges have been laid against the group.
The unnamed members include a retail assistant, supermarket employee, a chef, disability support worker, electrician and a court officer.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale said at the time detectives believe they have uncovered one of the biggest domestic child exploitation networks of recent years.
She said police would allege in court that some of the nine accused men had sexually abused children known to them and recorded videos and photographs of the abuse to share with others online.
‘We are continuing to try to identify other children who we suspect were preyed on by individuals in the alleged network,’ she said.
Pictured: Australian Federal Police officers seized a USB during their investigations
Pictured: Two mobile phones seized by investigators during Operation Arkstone
‘It is heartbreaking to think of any child being sexually abused, but it strengthens our resolve to hunt down perpetrators and bring them to justice.’
Of the victims rescued this month 39 are from NSW, six are in Western Australia and one is in Queensland.
AFP acting commander Christopher Woods said investigators from the AFP, NSW Police and U.S. Homeland Security have spent most of 2020 working tirelessly on the operation.
But the busts are potentially not yet over, with police believing the latest arrests will link them to even more extended members of the depraved child sex ring.
‘Operation Arkstone is not over,’ Justine Gough, AFP Assistant Commissioner Eastern Commander said.
‘We’ve not ruled out further arrests in Australia or offshore.
‘Or sadly the identification of further victims in Australia and offshore. Our agencies are united and committed to chasing every lead and leaving no stone unturned.’
Police have rescued 46 Australian children – including 16 from a child care centre – in one of the biggest alleged child sex abuse cases to rock the country