Skip to main content

0800 917 1000 Open weekdays 9am to 5pm

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Internet Investigation Report

Recent cases

Operation ‘C’[1]

In 2016, a local secondary school reported to West Midlands Police that there were images on the internet of one of their male pupils performing oral sex on another male. The police identified a social media account that was being used to distribute the images and a physical address linked to that account. The address was searched. A man in his 20s handed himself in to police. In his police interview, the offender admitted that he had set up a fake social media account posing as a female. He accepted that he had exchanged messages with the victim, including exchanging indecent images, which led to the meeting where he captured the victim performing oral sex on him. He denied setting up any other fake profiles and said he had only ever spoken to one other person using his fake account.

When West Midlands Police analysed his computer, they found a number of other fake female profiles and a large number of indecent images of young men. The offender followed a consistent pattern whereby he would befriend the victim using his fake female social media profile, encourage them to send indecent images to him and then use those images to blackmail them into meeting him and performing sexual acts. The police identified 45 victims. The offender pleaded guilty to 32 offences and was sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment.

Case 1

In 2017, Gwent Police received intelligence that a suspect was actively sharing files containing indecent images of children. Police obtained a search warrant, seized a number of devices from the address and arrested the suspect. During a police interview, he admitted downloading indecent images of children and in due course pleaded guilty to indecent image offences involving possessing a total of 158 indecent images of children. He was sentenced to a 12-month suspended sentence.

As part of their public protection duties, the police conducted a number of safeguarding assessments and spoke to members of his family. As a result, two victims, both aged under 13, reported that they had been sexually abused by the offender. In respect of the sexual contact offences, he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.[2]

Richard Huckle

In 2016, Richard Huckle was sentenced to life imprisonment and was ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years for 71 offences of child sexual abuse.[3] Huckle was a UK national who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 22 children in Malaysia and one in Cambodia. His victims were 13 years old or younger and included a baby estimated to be six months old. He captured images of this abuse and posted it online on the dark web, advertising this material for sale. When arrested, his computer devices were encrypted.[4] Once the encryption was broken, police found that Huckle had kept a scorecard awarding points per victim depending on the nature and seriousness of the sexual act he committed.[5]

Mathew Law

In December 2018, Mathew Law was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment[6] for his role in a conspiracy to rape a seven-month-old baby.[7] Law was part of a ‘paedophile gang’, who communicated with each other privately using encrypted communication methods and the dark web. Other members of this network received sentences ranging from two to 24 years’ imprisonment.

Law was convicted earlier, in 1999, of possessing and distributing indecent images of children and received a sentence of 15 months’ imprisonment.

References

Back to top