- Sergeant Jacob Donald Walsh has pleaded guilty to 230 child sex abuse charges
- The RAAF intelligence officer amassed 11,000 video and 141,000 image files
- He blackmailed some of his victims into providing further child abuse material
A Royal Australian Air Force intelligence officer has confessed to 230 child sex-related charges involving victims from around the world.
Sergeant Jacob Donald Walsh pleaded guilty in Adelaide Magistrates Court on Tuesday to one of the largest child abuse cases ever made against a single offender in Australia.
Walsh’s crimes were committed while he worked in electronic intelligence for the Defence Science and Technology Group at RAAF Base Edinburgh, about 25km north of Adelaide.
The offences involved child sexual exploitation, abuse and online grooming and included Walsh using photographs of children to blackmail them into providing sexually explicit pictures.
South Australia’s Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET) produced 88,000 pages of evidence against Walsh, according to The Advertiser.
Walsh was first charged with just two offences in May 2021 and released on bail. He was arrested again in August that year and charged with 45 crimes.
The South Australian Supreme Court heard Walsh had spent eight months using social media apps to groom his teenage victims for sex and to solicit child abuse material.
Faced with the weight of forensic evidence Walsh agreed to cooperate with police and provide passwords to the accounts he had used to abuse children.
Prosecutors later revealed they had identified 25 victims and been in contact with international and interstate police forces.
‘In excess of 1,000 messages, consisting of between 10,000 and 60,000 lines of chat each, directly relate to grooming children for specific sexual activities,’ a prosecutor said at the time.
‘We will allege Sergeant Walsh has been leveraging that material against the children to make them amenable to more serious offences.’
Further charges of dishonestly communicating with a child, maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child and producing abuse material were laid against the airman.
Police discovered Walsh had used Instagram accounts with the names ‘Man Mountain’ and ‘Jace Edwards’ and he had amassed 11,000 video and 141,000 image files.
In April this year prosecutors were still seeking to identify 15 potential victims and JACET was examining 8,000 pages of Instagram messages.
By June the case against Walsh included 230 child abuse offences contained in a single file.
When Walsh faced court on Tuesday his barrister Bill Morris said his client had provided handwritten guilty pleas to every charge.
‘I admit all charges on the attached information and understand I will be committed to a superior court for sentence,’ Walsh wrote in his plea, according to The Advertiser.
Walsh will remain in custody ahead of his sentencing in the District Court later this year.