Sydney children’s author arrested and charged for online grooming

Sydney children’s author arrested and charged for online grooming
Image: The offender allegedly used his position as a children's author to engage inappropriately with minors online. Image: NSW Police

by KYE ANSON

 

A Sydney children’s author has been charged over the weekend for allegedly grooming a minor online.

Detectives believe the offender “used his position as a children’s author to engage inappropriately with children online,” according to a statement from NSW Police.

The 41-year-old man, who has since been identified as Oliver Phommavanh, was arrested at a home on Saturday in Old Guilford, following reports he had been communicating inappropriately with an underage girl.

The day before, on Friday May 17, Strike Force Trawler raided the man’s home at 8am. Detectives seized multiple devices containing explicit photographs and videos to a girl who the offender believed to be 13 years old.

The man was then taken to Fairfield Police Station, where he was charged with using a carriage service to groom a child under 16 for sex, and use carriage service procure less than 16 years old for sexual activity.

Later that day, he stood before the Fairfield Local Court where he was refused police bail until further investigation by Strike Force Trawler.

Once a school teacher, Phommavanh turned to children’s humour and writing to appeal to his younger audiences. He appeared on the NRL Footy Show as a guest and has produced several children’s books.

He became a known author with his book Thai-Riffic!, which was shortlisted for the Young Australia Best Book Awards and Kids Own Australia’s Literature Awards five years in a row.

Phommavanh’s case will continue on the July 9 before the Parramatta Local Court.

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