Philippines gives Aussie life sentence for child trafficking

Manila – A Philippine court has sentenced an Australian man to life imprisonment after finding him guilty on human trafficking and child pornography charges.

Drew Frederick Shobbrook, 51, listened quietly as the verdict was read in a court in Cebu city on Tuesday. Footage shot by local broadcaster ABS-CBN of the proceedings showed Leslie Ann Fernandez, a Philippine national co-accused in the case, crying next to Shobbrook.

Both were arrested during a 2013 operation in which 15 girls were rescued by Philippine authorities.

According to the International Justice Mission, a global organisation that partners with local authorities to fight human trafficking and child sexual abuse, the accused used the girls for pornographic images and videos that he then distributed online. The girls also testified that he offered them to other foreigners for sexual exploitation, according to the IJM.

Attorney John Tanagho of the IJM said the conviction sends a strong message to perpetrators of human trafficking for online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines.

"Whether someone is a foreigner or a Filipino, if they sexually abuse Filipino children online or by creating child pornography, then they will be held accountable," Tanagho said.

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