A loophole saw alleged child pornographer Areum Lee deported instead of facing trial. Picture: Supplied
A loophole saw alleged child pornographer Areum Lee deported instead of facing trial. Picture: Supplied

Bungle sees NT child porn accused let off the hook

A BUREAUCRATIC stuff-up saw a notorious international child pornographer skip he the country, likely avoiding ever facing justice for the abhorrent crimes she was alleged to have committed.

Areum Lee, now 29, was arrested in November 2017 after joint NT Police and AFP investigation concluded she had been possessing and distributing child pornography while in Australia working as an au pair.

Her case made headlines in Korea, as has the anti-men group she is a member of.

She was charged with two counts of possessing child abuse material and two counts of using a carriage service to make child abuse material available to others.

Lee's supporters have suggested the abhorrent material was largely what police refer to as "category 6" child abuse material, and involving non-sexual photos of young boys taken in public accompanied with extremely graphic captions, including descriptions of her desire to see them raped.

Lee's case vanished from the courts shortly when Justice Graham Hiley granted her bail on April 5 last year, with conditions she surrender her passport and not apply for another presumed enough to keep her in Australia.

A Border Force spokesman said Lee was "voluntarily removed from Australia" less than three weeks later, after a stint in immigration detention.

The spokesman said NT Police had not issued a document called a Criminal Justice Stay Certificate, which would have prevented Border Force from deporting Lee while officials considered granting a special class of visa, but which would have forced police to bankroll Lee's living expenses while she awaited trial.

Detective Acting Superintendent Glenn Leafe said those costs would have been "significant".

Lee's visa expired during her five months on remand and the Border Force spokesman said the Migration Act required the agency to boot her from the country.

It is unclear precisely how officials deported Lee without a passport for her to re-enter Korea, and with a ban on her applying for a new passport.

NT Police said investigators made inquiries about Lee's whereabouts last May, well after she had been booted from the country.

A judge issued a warrant for Lee's arrest on May 31, and Supt Leafe said she will be arrested if she ever returns to Australia.

Before she was granted bail, Crown Prosecutor Damien Jones said the case against her was "extremely strong".

Lee's barrister Josh Nottle told the Supreme Court his client "wants her day in court".

A group of radical feminists in Korea had reportedly raised money to pay Lee's legal fees.