Paedophile gang groomed families to rape and abuse babies live on internet

  • Seven men have been convicted of conspiracy to attack young children
  • They travelled across the country to watch babies being abused
  • The gang - who were outwardly respectable - met via social media and adult chat websites
  • Police have identified three child victims but fear there could be more 

A gang of paedophiles have been convicted of plotting to groom young children so they could sexually abuse them while broadcasting their depraved actions online.

The seven men, outwardly respectable with careers and families, even preyed on the families of their potential victims - in one case grooming a mother and father before their baby was born.

The group live across the UK, and would travel long distances at a moment's notice to carry out sex attacks or watch someone else abuse a child via an online broadcast.

Paedophiles: John Denham, left, and Matthew Stansfield, right, have been convicted of conspiring to abuse young children

John Denham, 49, and Matthew Stansfield, 34, were today convicted of conspiracy to abuse children under the age of 13 after a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

Five of their co-conspirators - Robin Hollyson, 30, Christopher Knight, 35, Adam Toms, 33, David Harsley, 51, and Matthew Lisk, 32 - had previously pleaded guilty to a string of abuse charges.

The men faced a total of 30 charges, including the rape of a child, conspiracy to rape a child, sexual activity with a child and administering a substance with intent.

Police have identified three victims - a baby, a toddler and a pre-schooler - but authorities fear there could be more children who were abused by the gang.

Three of the paedophiles have previously been convicted of sex offences, but others hid behind a veil of respectability - Denham, a married father of two, was a youth football coach.

Abuse: David Harsley, left, and Robin Hollyson, right, admitted involvement in the paedophile ring


Robin Hollyson (previously known as Robin Fallick), 30, of Luton

Hollyson befriended a couple with a baby and was allowed to babysit. He raped and sent a video of the abuse to other paedophiles.

Pleaded guilty to three counts of rape of a child under 13.

Pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to rape a child under 13.

Pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child under 13.

Pleaded guilty to taking, showing, possessing indecent images of children and extreme pornography.

Christopher Knight, 35, of Manchester

Pleaded guilty to the rape of a child under 13.

Pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to rape a child under 13.

Pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13.

Pleaded guilty to taking, showing, possessing indecent images of children.

Adam Toms, 33, of Somerset

Pleaded guilty to the rape of a child under 13.

Pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13.

Pleaded guilty to administering a substance in order to carry out sexual activity.

Pleaded guilty to taking, showing, possessing indecent images of children.

Matthew Stansfield, 34, of Portsmouth

Pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to rape a child under 13 but was convicted by a jury after a trial.

Pleaded guilty to breaching a sex offenders' prevention order.

Pleaded guilty to making and possessing indecent images of children.

Stansfield, who runs his own business, has a previous conviction from May 2014 for possessing child abuse images.

David Harsley, 51, of Hull

The hospital worker befriended a "vulnerable" pregnant single woman having met her at a social club. He was looking after the boy, now aged four, and committed a sex act in front of the child while Denham and Lisk watched over Skype. 

Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child under 13.

John Denham (previously known as Benjamin Harrop), 49, of Wiltshire

Pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to rape a child under 13 and was acquitted by a jury following trial.

Pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to sexually assault a child under 13 but was convicted by the jury.

Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sexually assault a child under 13.

Matthew Lisk, 32, of Brighton

Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child under 13.

Pleaded guilty to making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children.

Police described the men as 'monsters in disguise', working together to commit some of the most 'vile and depraved' child sex offences the authorities have ever seen.

The National Crime Agency, which led the investigation, said the perverts met after discussing their sexual interests in young children on social media and adult sex sites.

The gang was described as 'incredibly skilled' at grooming victims' families, even striking up relationships with pregnant women in order to abuse their babies once they were born.

After arranging to sexually abuse children, the paedophiles then filmed themselves and broadcast the footage online while other men got together and watched in hotel rooms.

Graham Gardner, deputy director of investigations at the NCA, said the ring 'has got tentacles that go round the world'.

The men, who did not know each other outside of their involvement in the abuse, led respectable lives and concealed their activities from the outside world until they were unmasked.

Mr Gardner said: 'They don't stand out as monsters, but they are monsters in disguise. We rarely see criminal behaviour involving the sexual abuse of children to this degree. This is serious organised crime at its worst.

'The men involved in this group actively targeted families to facilitate the sexual abuse of their children, toddlers and babies. The depravity of these men appeared to know no bounds and is without doubt as vile as we have seen.'

The NCA launched its investigation, codenamed Operation Voicer, last September after Toms contacted police and wept down the phone, later admitting he had abused a child.

Their inquiries led to the unmasking of the ring operating across the UK, which had links to other paedophiles across the world.

In the weeks that followed, the other six members were arrested and a further two victims were identified. Another 21 children have been the subject of protective measures as a result of the investigation.

The NCA has worked closely with the Avon and Somerset, Bedfordshire, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Humberside, Wiltshire and Sussex forces, as well as the Crown Prosecution Service and nine local authorities.

Police combed the suspects' electronic communications and established that contact between them began on adult online sex forums, which are publicly accessible and legal to use.

Investigators recovered Skype chat logs that recorded conversations between the men, which were described as 'disgusting' and 'abhorrent' by police.

The exchanges - which were never meant to be discovered as the men went to great lengths to destroy their online activities - included references to 'nep', a term they had not come across before which means someone sexually attracted to babies and toddlers.

There were also references to illegal drugs and over-the-counter medicines, with members of the ring discussing what dosages were needed to drug children of different ages.

Ian Glover, senior investigating officer, said: 'We've encountered grooming where the family have been groomed prior to birth of the baby. They go in that early with the sole intention of abusing that baby once it's born.'

Voyeurs: The gang - including Christopher Knight, left, and Matthew Lisk, right - travelled around the country to watch each other abuse children

Extensive planning went into enabling the abuse to be screened over the internet to co-conspirators and also other paedophiles around the world.

The gang were 'savvy' in establishing a way to broadcast their activities without transferring files in a way that could be easily traced, instead using video conferencing site Zoom to stream their abuse.

They also used the 'dark web' to communicate with each other using networks such as The Onion Router, known as TOR, which allow browsers to disguise their identities

Images of abuse in this case are believed to have been broadcast to every continent and British police have circulated evidence about other suspected paedophiles to authorities in Europe, South America and Australia.

Tip-off: The police investigation began when Adam Toms, pictured, admitted he had abused a child

Tip-off: The police investigation began when Adam Toms, pictured, admitted he had abused a child

Mr Glover said: 'There are other unidentified victims. We have tens of thousands of images and we cannot say every single child on there has been identified. There are over 100 mobile phones, storage devices and other items. Evidence comes in on a daily basis.'

NCA deputy chief investigator Adam Robinson said: 'There has been three types or patterns of offending.

'With live streaming you have somebody who has a relationship with the victim, and has managed to get the victim to a location, perfectly normal behaviour and there has been no suspicion from the families.

'They have then set up the video conferencing facility. There has been extensive planning amongst the others to get to a location, whether it be someone else's house, a hotel room, somewhere safe and secure where they can get together for their own sexual gratification but they are watching the abuse of a child online that's happening live.

'You also have the remote viewing, a similar pattern, of people who are abroad and the victims who are abroad, and some of the evidence that comes out of the chat logs indicates that the reason they do that is there's no harm of getting caught.

'And then you've got those who are more than happy to get up at four o'clock in the morning as a result of a phone call or text message or some other sort of online communication, they would drive three or four hours the length and breadth of the country to have a limited time period with a victim.

'That limited time period could be as little as half an hour or even less, because that's when the victim is available. Then they go back to work, they drive back up to wherever they've come from and carry on with their day.'

The gang will be sentenced at a later date, and all face lengthy jail terms which could include life imprisonment for some of them.

Greg McGill, head of the Crown Prosecution Service organised crime division, said: 'It is difficult to find the words to describe the activities of these men, and the harm that they have done.

'The families of these children have endured a horrendous ordeal and I would like to thank them for their invaluable assistance in securing these convictions.

'Fortunately, the CPS, NCA and police forces were able to coordinate a swift and effective response when matters came to light, which resulted in the arrest and prosecution of these men.

'The efforts have resulted in guilty pleas from all involved, followed by further convictions secured after a trial for other offences.'



User A - just need to be absolutely sure that in doing the right thing that's all

User B - sending pic

User B - proving I am into the same thing

User A - Don't wanna throw my life away

User A - I know mate

User B - If you don't want to do anything its fine

User B - I know ur worried

User B - I am gen

User B - discrete and into same

User A - I get myself into paranoia because read about guys snared by cops pretending to be peds and arranging meets. One in paper last week LOL


User A - shall we say hotel then?

User B - yes

User A - well I have the area now, let me look into it but its dates first

User B - try this site

User A - I'll be honest it will be so much easier if we just get a nice private cheap premier inn for the night

User A - and the next day

User A - caravan will be hard to book and prob all booked up and will be less discreet

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