Cebu court convicts Australian, Filipina for cybersex operation
An Australian national was meted two life terms and another 20 years in prison for operating a cybersex den and exploiting minors in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City in 2013.
Drew Frederick Shobbrook was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of two counts of qualified trafficking and one count of child pornography.
He was also mandated to pay a total fine of P6.2 million.
His co-accused, Leslie Ann Crasco, a Filipina, was sentenced to life in prison and was ordered to pay P2.6 million after she was found guilty of qualified trafficking.
While Craso sobbed when the verdict was read, Shobbrook appeared calm as he stood firm in front of the judge.
“I will file an appeal (to contest the ruling,” the Aussie told reporters after the court proceedings.
He refused to elaborate.
His lawyer Salvador Solima said they will exhaust all possible legal remedies to overturn the decision of the court.
“We respect the court’s decision but that won’t stop us from filing an appeal. That’s the right of every accused,” he said.
Shobbrook and Crasco were arrested by the agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in a raid on his apartment where 15 women – four of them minors – were rescued on April 17, 2013.
Seized during the raid were seven laptops, desktop computers, computer parts, an iPad tablet, hard disks allegedly containing explicit and lewd photographs, an unlicensed .45 caliber pistol and .38 caliber revolver, sex toys, and other personal effects.
Three of the victims said they were paid to perform lewd acts in front of web cameras and to have sex with their employer.
In his decision, Judge Marlon Jay Moneva of RTC Branch 20 in Cebu City said there was sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of the two accused.
He said Shobbrook’s claim that he already abstained from engaging in any sexual activity because of a pre-existing heart condition was unsubstantiated and runs counter to the confiscation of sex toys and condoms, among others, inside his apartment.
“On the contrary, these all the more strengthened the prosecution’s theory that herein private complainants had been sexually exploited by the accused,” the judge added.
Lawyer John Tanagho, director of the International Justice Mission (IJM) Cebu Field Office, expressed elation over the conviction of the two accused.
“This is a significant milestone in the fight against human trafficking, including for purposes of online and sexual exploitation of children. Today’s conviction sends a strong message that whether someone is a foreigner or a Filipino, if they sexually abuse children, then they will be held accountable,” he said in an interview.
The IJM, an anti-human trafficking non-government organization, actively participated in the operation against the two accused as well as in the prosecution of the case.
“Human trafficking is a very serious crime. It’s devastating the lives of Fiipino children,” he said.
Rey Villordon of the NBI said there will be no let up in their campaign against human trafficking.
“We will go after all those who take advantage of children and other persons through human trafficking. We will continue the fight against this menace,” he said.
Villordon, a former supervising agent of the NBI-7 and team leader in the operation that resulted to the arrest of the two accused, now serves as executive officer of the NBI-Dumaguete.
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