Australian in Cebu sentenced to life for sexual trafficking of girls
MANILA, Philippines – The Cebu Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20 convicted on Tuesday, February 20, Australian national Drew Frederick Shobbrook of human trafficking, sentencing him to life in prison.
Shobbrook was found guilty of 4 counts of qualified trafficking in persons punishable under Section 6 of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. On top of a life imprisonment sentence is a fine of P2 million.
He was also convicted of possession of child pornography with intent to sell or distribute, and sentenced to 20 years in prison with a fine of P1 million.
Shobbrook was arrested in 2013 at his apartment in Cebu City after 4 minor girls filed a complaint saying they had been sexually exploited by the Australian national. Shobbrook had the help of Filipino Leslie Ann Fernandez in recruiting young girls and selling videos of them on the internet.
Fernandez was also convicted of trafficking and sentenced to life.
The minors said they were promised payment and educational support if they work for Shobbrook in his 3 houses across Cebu City.
Shobbrook sexually exploited the girls and recorded these acts to sell over the internet. The girls said they were also offered to other foreigners for sex. Seven witnesses were presented during trial, while the defense team only had Shobbrook as witness.
A separate trial is ongoing at the Lapu Lapu City Court for charges of witness tampering against Vanessa Monte Alto and three John Does. Prosecution said Shobbrook used the defendants to bribe the witnesses in his own charges to not testify. They face a sentence of 15 years if found guilty.
According to the International Justice Mission (IJM), a non-government organization (NGOs) which helps victims of sex trafficking, Shobbrook had exploited a total of 15 girls.
“Today’s convictions send a strong message that if you sexually abuse and exploit Filipino children online and create child pornography you will be convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Whether Filipino or foreigner, all perpetrators of human trafficking for online sexual exploitation of children should be held accountable under Philippine law,” said lawyer John Tanagho, IJM Cebu’s field office director. – Rappler.com