Guilty plea to child abuse charges

A HILLGROVE man who talked to an undercover police officer about child exploitation has pleaded guilty to child abuse offences.

The man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, has been behind bars since Sex Crime Squad officers swooped on him in an Armidale car park in September last year.

The 38-year-old was not present in Armidale Local Court yesterday, but solicitor Ron Watt formally entered guilty pleas to three counts of possessing child abuse material on behalf of his client.

The man is accused of engaging in sexually explicit online conversations with an undercover officer who was posing as a 35-year-old woman and her 11-year-old daughter.

The sting by specialist police from the Child Exploitation Internet Unit on September 30 coincided with a raid on a Hillgrove home, where officers allegedly discovered a cache of weapons and drugs.

Detectives will allege they seized 12 kilograms of cannabis, 20 cannabis plants, MDMA and amphetamines during the raid.

Crown prosecutor Peter Woods told Armidale Local Court yesterday a document certifying the drugs seized was still outstanding.

“We are still waiting for the drug analysis certificate to find out if it really was 12kg of cannabis,” Mr Woods said yesterday.

The man is also facing a number of firearms offences after seven weapons were discovered, one of which was a prohibited weapon with a silencer, while a specialist ballistics report confirmed another was a self-loading rifle.

Mr Watt told the court his client could plead on the next occasion once the drug certificate had been received.

The accused, who did not make a fresh application for bail, has been ordered to front court on the next occasion for sentencing in relation to the child abuse offences.

Magistrate Karen Stafford refused the man bail, with the case set to return to court on March 19.

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