A notorious Australian paedophile who ran one of the world’s biggest child abuse networks has given evidence to a Danish court against a man alleged to have helped him administer the online forum.
Adelaide man Shannon McCoole was last year sentenced to 35 years in jail for sexually abusing vulnerable children in his care and for running an abuse site on the dark net with 45,000 members worldwide.
McCoole is now in protective custody and under 24-hour surveillance in Adelaide’s Yatala Labour Prison.
The ABC can reveal that the 33-year-old last month testified from the prison by videolink in a case that has sent shockwaves around Denmark.
A 48-year-old Dane – known only as “TL” – is accused of abusing four children and of helping McCoole administer the global child abuse forum.
TL has denied being a senior figure in the network, saying he only had a minor role.
“The prosecutor believes the Danish guy was a co-administrator of this very big paedophile network that Shannon McCoole was convicted of being a part of,” said Janni Pedersen, a reporter with Denmark’s TV2 News who has been covering the case.
“This is a big case here in Denmark … it was quite a big thing having McCoole [testify] via videolink.”
Accused an ‘expert’ in child pornography, McCoole tells court
Asked in court about TL, McCoole said the Dane was well known and “respected” in child abuse circles.
McCoole was also quizzed about TL’s role with the abuse forum.
“He helped me find original child pornography material,” he replied.
“In general TL had seen so much material that if he had not seen something before, then it had to be new.”
The prosecutor then asked if TL was an expert.
“I would say so, with my knowledge of the paedophile environment,” McCoole said.
Journalist Janni Pedersen said: “Having [McCoole] saying in court that the Danish guy who is on trial is actually a co-administrator was a very good point for the prosecutor.”
A verdict in TL’s trial could be delivered as early as next month.
McCoole was arrested after police from Queensland’s Taskforce Argos pieced together clues about his identity by cross-matching an online greeting he used on various web forums.
Once his identity was established, South Australian detectives went to his Adelaide home and discovered evidence – including metadata on a camera and a freckle on McCoole’s finger matching one in images of abuse – that proved he was the head administrator of the global abuse site and an active sexual abuser of children in his care.
One of his victims was 18 months old; another was disabled.
Users of the site were ranked according to the volume and originality of the child exploitation material they uploaded.
Members who were promoted would be allowed access into the site’s VIP section where graphic images of abuse were kept.