Gang of paedophiles groomed women for their babies

A GANG of paedophiles who groomed pregnant women to secure their babies for later sexual abuse used one victim as a prop to advertise an online chatroom about child rape, a sentencing hearing has been told.

The group drugged, raped and abused babies, toddlers and pre-school age children in attacks that were carefully organised and streamed online.

Some of the men travelled hundreds of miles to join in attacks after one of them managed to get a short time alone with a child after securing the trust of relatives.

The group's activities were outlined in court, though prosecutors said they would not go into the grim detail of offences that "exposed a world that many would not have believed".

Seven men will be sentenced after being convicted of 30 child sex abuse offences earlier this year. They included three previously convicted sex offenders.

The men, aged between 31 and 51, communicated through Skype, the dark web and video conferencing facilities to watch the abuse and encourage others carrying out the attacks.

Chat logs showed that they discussed date-rape drugs and over-the-counter medicines to make their victims drowsy.

Their known victims included a baby aged between three and seven months and a four-year-old boy.

Two brothers in the United States were forced to abuse each other for paedophiles watching online, Robert Davies, prosecuting, told Bristol Crown Court.

"A real baby was for certain abused and raped by some of those involved," said Mr Davies.

"Another lad was drugged and abused. Another boy was brought to a room where a defendant engaged in sexual activity for the enjoyment of two others watching over the internet. The youngster's presence was a big part of what was arousing them."

One of the defendants, convicted sex offender Matthew Stansfield, 35, ran a chatroom for those interested in raping children and babies.

Mr Davies said online chat logs made for "deeply disturbing reading". "The men have minds that are wired to finding the idea of raping babies and youngsters a sexual turn on," he said.

The ring was only uncovered after one of the men, Adam Toms, 33, turned himself in and admitted that he had abused a child. His phone and computer records led the National Crime Agency to the other men.

Those convicted included a youth football team coach, an entrepreneur and another working in the tourism industry. They lived in different parts of England and connected online.

Family members of those abused provided victim impact statements speaking of how they trusted the defendants near their children.

"Clearly the discovery of what's happened and the abuse of trust that they had placed in these individuals is profound and long lasting," Mr Davies said.

Those to be sentenced are John Denham, 50, from Wiltshire; Stansfield, 35, from Hampshire; Toms, 33, from Somerset; Christopher Knight, 35, from Manchester; Robin Hollyson, 31, from Bedfordshire; David Harsley, 51, from East Yorkshire, and Matthew Lisk, 33, from East Sussex. The hearing continues.

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