A recluse allegedly used a secluded caravan on a rural Aussie property as his base to groom a woman overseas into sexually exploiting her child before boarding a flight to her country.
Timothy John Lane, 51, was refused bail at Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday over charges a magistrate repeatedly described as extremely and exceptionally serious.
The resident of Stanhope, a small town in NSW’s Hunter Region, was dramatically arrested at Sydney Airport in April after his bag was searched upon his return from the Philippines, resulting in the alleged discovery of child abuse material on his phone.
Following his arrest, Lane was granted bail to live in his caravan at Stanhope on May 22.
But just one month later — and following further investigations by the Australian Federal Police — officers executed a search warrant on his caravan and allegedly found further child abuse material on another mobile phone.
He was arrested and charged with using a carriage service to send indecent material to a person under 16 years, using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material to himself and grooming a person to make it easier to have sexual activity with a child.
Police allege he committed those offences inside his caravan between November 22, 2022 and april 6 this year.
Reading from police facts, Magistrate Clare Farnan said there was an alleged “lengthy conversation” in November 2022 between Mr Lane and a woman about her 11-or-12-year-old child overseas.
Police allege Lane encouraged the woman to produce child abuse material.
“I don’t propose to detail the precise details of the alleged offending … but if proved, it is a very serious example of this offence,” Ms Farnan said.
“Upon reading those facts, it would appear Mr Lane, having been granted bail after being charged with an extremely serious allegation of importing child abuse material, is alleged to have essentially gone out of his way to … further access child abuse material from a device which he’d obtained, essentially in breach of bail”.
Lane’s defence lawyer, Rajiv Baldeo, argued his client should be released from the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre to live with his elderly mother and her partner — a retired solicitor — at their home in Copacabana on the NSW Central Coast.
He told the court Lane is a vulnerable man with complex mental health problems which had not been properly addressed in custody, and that he posed a lesser risk of reoffending if granted bail to live with his mother than alone at the caravan he was previously released to.
“He effectively has no-one in his life besides his mother,” Mr Baldeo said.
“He lives a life which appears to be marred through isolation as it were, through choice; One where he doesn’t have interaction with many people at all, certainly physically, and has very little support outside of firstly, his mother, and secondly, community or mental health centres.”
But prosecutor Paayal Parshotam rejected the bail application, telling the court there was a previous apprehended violence order (AVO) taken out to protect his mother after Lane allegedly threatened her with a knife.
At this moment, Lane — who appeared via audiovisual link (AVL) dressed in prison greens — interrupted the proceedings to say “it was not true about a knife, it was a verbal disagreement”.
Lane raised his finger several times throughout the bail hearing but was reminded by Ms Farnan of his legal representation.
Ultimately, Ms Farnan refused bail on the grounds of the “exceptionally serious” charges, the fact they were committed while Lane was on bail for similar alleged offending and the AVO history with his mother.
Lane is yet to enter pleas on the charges and is next due to face Downing Centre Local Court on September 6.