A man has been charged over alleged ‘upskirting’ photos of young girls at Bunnings North Mackay on Saturday.
A man has been charged over alleged ‘upskirting’ photos of young girls at Bunnings North Mackay on Saturday.

Explained: How young boy helped cops catch alleged upskirter

THE older brother of a young girl police allege was indecently photographed without permission at Bunnings North Mackay is being praised for acting quickly in telling his parents.

The boy, 10, waited until he felt safe to tell his mother he saw a man allegedly take photos of his eight-year-old sister, in what police described as "upskirting".

Mackay Child Protection Investigation Unit's Emma Novosel said the boy told his mother outside the store where the family had been shopping between 11am and noon on Saturday.

Detective Senior Sergeant Novosel said a 25-year-old man was arrested at Ball Bay following investigations into the reported incident.

Sen-Sgt Novosel said officers were now trying to identify other girls whose images were allegedly found on the phone police seized at the time of the man's arrest.

"As a result of the investigation, police executed a search warrant at the man's home and located a phone that was not owned by the man but by a family member," she said.

"(An) examination of that phone identified a further series of photos of seven other young girls and teenagers - all taken around the same time at that Bunnings location.

"I've viewed the footage from Bunnings and I've viewed the photos on the telephone and I would estimate these girls we're seeking to make contact with are between the age of five until the age of 15.

"We're asking for anyone who was at the Bunnings North Mackay store last Saturday, between the times of 11 and 12, who were in the company of female children and young teenagers, to make contact with police."

A number of concerned families have this morning phoned Mackay police and they will be contacted, Sen-Sgt Novosel said.

 

Mackay Child Protection Investigation Unit Detective Senior Sergeant Emma Novosel speaks in relation to an incident at North Mackay Bunnings on Saturday where a man allegedly photographed young girls. Picture: Tara Miko
Mackay Child Protection Investigation Unit Detective Senior Sergeant Emma Novosel speaks in relation to an incident at North Mackay Bunnings on Saturday where a man allegedly photographed young girls. Picture: Tara Miko

 

Appeal for information

DETECTIVES believe young girls whose images were found on a man's mobile phone likely knew they were being photographed inside Bunnings North Mackay.

"What is evident to us, though, when looking at the images and the CCTV footage is that it is quite possible that these young girls and teenagers would have known that someone was taking photos of them," Sen-Sgt Novosel said.

"The man concerned was so close to them and the images indicate that some of those girls at least know the photos were taken.

"So we are asking people who were in the store with their children at that time to sit down and have a calm conversation with their children and try and determine if they are the children we are seeking."

At the time of the incident, the 25-year-old man had been released on bail with conditions, including not having possession or access to the internet.

He is alleged to have snapped photos of an eight-year-old girl in a Bunnings aisle.

"An eight-year-old girl and her family attended the Bunnings store at North Mackay," she said.

"They were in the store shopping, they were around the paint area in the curtain accessory aisle and were in the store for around half an hour.

"When they were leaving the store, the eight-year-old girl's brother disclosed to his mother he had noticed a man taking photographs on his mobile phone of his sister.

"The child's father then approached the man who denied he even had possession of a phone.

"I really want to congratulate (the girl's brother) for looking after his sister and obviously he disclosed to his mother, once he thought they were safe and out of the store, and it went from there."

Sen-Sgt Novosel said CCTV footage had tracked the man's movements throughout the store, and thanked Bunnings North Mackay for its co-operation in the investigation.

She said the incident was isolated, and did not believe there was a wider risk to children in Mackay.

"The CCTV indicates, and the photographs we've recovered from the man's phone, indicate they were taken in the aisles," she said.

"There were no photographs taken in the rest rooms.

"It is important to emphasise too that the man who is subject to these charges was also a person visiting Bunnings; it was not an employee of Bunnings."

 

Parents of girls aged five to 15 and who were at Bunnings North Mackay on Saturday are being urged to talk to them about the alleged incident.
Parents of girls aged five to 15 and who were at Bunnings North Mackay on Saturday are being urged to talk to them about the alleged incident.

 

Advice for parents

POLICE allege the man had about seven photos of the eight-year-old girl, and several more of other girls who are yet to be identified.

"At the moment we have had a number of people contact the police station in relation to the fact they were there with their female children between those times," Sen-Sgt Novosel said.

"We will be following up with those people.

"The Bunnings at North Mackay have been outstanding in their assistance in this matter.

"As soon as it was reported, as you can imagine there are many cameras in that store, and they have gone through all the footage and we have been able to capture the movement of this man throughout the aisles on that day."

The Ball Bay man is now in custody after his bail was revoked.

Sen-Sgt Novosel said while his alleged behaviour was concerning, there was no indication the incident involved touching or assault of the girls.

"The behaviour we are talking about is concerning," she said.

"I really think it is an isolated incident. I don't think there's any danger in families attending Bunnings North Mackay and certainly the man in question has been remanded in custody.

"In that respect there is no inherent risk to children of Mackay.

"We're confident there was no contact offending, meaning the man didn't touch or assault the children in any way."

Sen-Sgt Novosel encouraged parents to have calm but important conversations with their children, particularly those aged between five and 15 who were at Bunnings at the weekend.

 

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Man remanded in custody

THE man has been charged with one count each of indecent treatment of a child under 16, possessing child exploitation material, breach of bail and fail to comply with reporting conditions.

He appeared in Mackay Magistrates Court on Monday where he was remanded in custody to reappear on December 2.

Sen-Sgt Novosel said the man had other matters before the courts.

"As a result of those matters, he does have bail conditions that prevent him from having possession of a mobile phone or accessing any device that can access the internet," she said.



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