Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

howard hawke
Howard Hawke, 69, arrives in court in Bendigo following his arrest in March last year. Picture: Jason Walls


A KANGAROO Flat man who attempted to procure sex with a two-year-old child in Thailand and transmitted “extreme” child exploitation images has pleaded guilty in court.

In phone calls intercepted by police in 2016, Howard Hawke, 69, was recorded talking about his to desire to carry out “extremely depraved sexual activity” with the child.

He told the mother and grandmother, who are impoverished in Thailand, that he wanted them to whip the child because he “likes to see young ones hurt”.

Hawke – a HIV-positive former pig farmer – pleaded guilty in the County Court in Melbourne on Friday to seven charges including producing child abuse material in another country, procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside Australia, planning an offence and encouraging an offence.

The court was told the family resisted his phone requests, with the grandmother saying the child was too young.

Hawke made a violent video of the child’s 16-year-old mother the previous year in which depraved sexual acts were carried out.

He was arrested during a raid in Kangaroo Flat in March last year, when police discovered 32 child exploitation images and seven videos on Hawke’s computer, and he was charged with transmitting 13 extreme child exploitation images.

Hawke was also charged with sexual assault against an intellectually impaired woman in Australia.

He denied planning to have sex with the child and described the phone calls as “fantasy”, and he was “a bit of a pervert”.

Crown prosecutor Krista Breckweg said the phone calls to the Thai family were “not a fantasy” and Hawke intended to travel to the country to carry out the acts.

“He talks about extremely depraved sexual activity," she said.

"He talks about the baby being held down by her own mother and grandmother.

"This behaviour was premeditated. He wanted to go overseas with the intention of procuring babies."

Hawke had travelled extensively in South East Asia since his retirement, and he became “involved in the extremely sexualised environment” in Thailand.

He sold his West Australian piggery in 2006 to fund his retirement with more than a million dollars.

When he was arrested in Kangaroo Flat in March 2017, he had $6500 in cash and $13,000 in credit card debt. He was living in “basically a boarding house”.

Defence counsel Robert Timms said Hawke would not have transmitted HIV if he stayed on his medication.

He said the court should avoid imposing a “crushing sentence” given Hawke’s age and his large credit card debt.

Judge Trevor Wraight will sentence Hawke in Melbourne on Thursday.

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