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Friday, 21 December 2018

Member of paedophile group jailed for 15 years for plotting to rape baby boy

Written by Claire Hayhurst

A man who was part of a gang of paedophiles who raped a baby and young child in abuse that was streamed over the internet has been jailed for 15 years.

Matthew Law, 50, is the eighth defendant to be convicted of charges relating to the case - described by a judge as "some of the most depraved and grossly deviant behaviour imaginable".

He was found guilty of one count of conspiring to rape the baby following a two-week trial at Bristol Crown Court last month.

Judge Julian Lambert sentenced Law to 15 years in prison and a five-year extension period after finding he posed a "significant risk of serious harm" and is "dangerous".

"I'm satisfied so that I'm sure that an overt act took place and that a baby was raped while you were present," the judge said.

"I'm not sure you were a principal in the act of rape but given the way in which your group operated that does not greatly reduce your individual responsibility.

"There is no doubt you bear a heavy burden of responsibility for an atrocious offence, albeit you are not the worst offender.

"I consider that your depravity is so entrenched that this, taken together with all the surrounding circumstances of the case, leads to the sure conclusion that there is a significant risk of serious harm from you in the future."

The National Crime Agency, which investigated Law, said he first started communicating with Christopher Knight - a prominent member of the paedophile group.

Knight introduced Law to other members of the group and they planned the "most horrific abuse of a baby and very young children", the judge said.

Robin Hollyson had gained access to a baby in 2013 and boasted of repeatedly raping the boy from the age of three months. He filmed himself doing so between December 2013 and January 2014.

In May 2014, he took turns to rape and sexually assault the boy with Matthew Stansfield and Adam Toms - two other members of the group - while sharing footage online.

Bristol Crown Court heard Law was contacted by Knight in the early hours of May 25 that year and took the day off work.

Representing Law, Marion Smullen said her client had only been convicted of an offence relating to that incident.

Other defendants in the group - of which the NCA said Law became an "integral member" - continued to abuse the baby.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the baby's mother described her horror at their acts.

"I simply can't understand how they could find a baby or young child sexually attractive," she said.

"What is sexy about raping a baby? They knew exactly what they were doing.

"People talk about the human rights of these people. What about my son's rights when he was being raped?

"I hope their lives are ruined forever."

In a further statement read to the court, the mother said her son was "a fantastic boy".

"The saving grace we have is that he will never know what happened to him and there are no long-lasting effects from the trauma he suffered," she told the court.

Law was previously sentenced in relation to indecent images of children in January 2000.

There were other evidence that Law had shown "a sexual interest in the very young", the judge said.

In 2015, seven men were convicted of 29 child sex abuse offences including the multiple rape of the baby.

There were John Denham, from Wiltshire, Matthew Stansfield, from Hampshire, Adam Toms, from Somerset, Christopher Knight from Manchester, Robin Hollyson from Bedfordshire, David Harsley from Yorkshire, and Matthew Lisk from Sussex.

Hollyson was found hanged in prison the following year.

Speaking after Laws was sentenced, Ty Surgeon, operations manager at the National Crime Agency, said: "This group of men behaved in the most depraved and deviant way.

"The abuse they inflicted on their victims is the worst kind of abuse I have ever seen and the impact of investigating this case lives with me and my officers to this date."

During the NCA investigation, three victims - the baby and two four-year-old boys who live in different parts of the country - were identified.

Thirty other children were safeguarded.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) National Crime Agency / PA Wire.