Tentacles of jailed paedophile group spread around the world

Robin Hollyson and Christopher Knight
Robin Hollyson and Christopher Knight

They are among the most dangerous groups of paedophiles the UK and Ireland has ever seen, according to the senior investigator who brought them to justice.

As John Denham, Matthew Stansfield, Adam Toms, Christopher Knight, Robin Hollyson, David Harsley and Matthew Lisk all begin prison sentences, investigators revealed the men's tentacles of abuse spread around the world.

In their warped world they used their crimes as "currency" with other paedophiles in order to exchange other sickening material.

Ian Glover, of the National Crime Agency, described the inquiry as "extremely challenging". "We have had to investigate contact offences with extremely young children and a linked international network of paedophiles," the senior investigator said.

"This is by far the worst paedophile group I have investigated.

"They are abusing extremely young children, they are ingratiating themselves with families and not only are they abusing victims but then putting it out on the world wide web for others to see.

"Then they are linking with further paedophile groups abroad who are conducting the same abuse and sharing the results of that abuse."

Mr Glover said Hollyson groomed a pregnant mother and her partner in order to win their trust and get access to their child once it was born.

"Other members of the group have also groomed other families, got themselves into a position of trust, so they can commit offences against these victims," he said.

"Once they have committed offences they are linking in with other members of the group, using new technology and streaming offences over the internet for the sexual gratification of the other paedophiles.

"They then arrange to meet up and abuse some of the victims as a group.

"Some of the victims have been treated as a commodity, to be passed onto others and to be filmed, to be abused and that abuse shown to other paedophiles as a form of currency, so they can get other material back and access to other children."

Mr Glover said that because of the age of the victims, a case was built using data retrieved from internet service providers.

"During this investigation there were no witnesses as the victims were too young to give evidence - they couldn't speak up for themselves," he said.

"So we had to go out and find that data and other evidence to convict these paedophiles. Law enforcement only gets 12 months to obtain that data from the service providers.

"One thing to bear in mind is once this data is gone, it's gone - it's destroyed. This hampers the investigation and we can't then go and link paedophiles together.

"In this case we didn't start the investigation until nine months after some offences, so it left us a very short period of time to obtain that data."

Mr Glover said officers from the National Crime Agency had shared intelligence gathered on other paedophiles during the investigation with authorities from across the world.

"We are expecting more convictions in the UK and abroad. Our investigation continues and we have got other offenders on bail at this moment in time," he added.