Watch: Paedophile who posed as girls online sentenced for 96 child sex abuse offences
A prolific paedophile who posed as girls online to get young boys to send him indecent images of themselves, leaving some of them suicidal, has been jailed for 25 years.
David Wilson, 36, was prosecuted for 96 child sex abuse offences relating to 52 victims, but the National Crime Agency (NCA) said it has evidence that he approached more than 5,000 children globally.
The agency said as many as 500 of them sent abuse material to Wilson, of Kirstead, King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
Wilson pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Ipswich Crown Court to all 96 counts.
He was sentenced at the same court on Wednesday and will also serve a further eight years on extended licence when his prison term ends.
Former roofer Wilson set up a series of fake social media profiles, using unregistered phones, to send images of girls from the internet to young boys in exchange for the boys sending him videos and images of themselves, the NCA said.
Wilson then threatened to distribute these online unless they sent more extreme footage of themselves, in some cases of them abusing younger siblings or friends, the agency said.
Catherine Farrelly, prosecuting, told the court that in two cases Wilson carried out his threats to distribute indecent images of his victims to their friends.
The 52 victims in the case were all boys aged between four and 14 and the offending happened between May 2016 and April 2020.
Judge Rupert Overbury said Wilson ignored the “obvious distress” of the children, with the defendant telling one boy who said he would kill himself: “All your mates are going to see your pictures, now f*** off.”
One boy had a blade to his wrist in a photograph and said “I’m killing myself”.
“Your response was unbelievably short and cruel – ‘bye’, you said,” said the judge.
He said some of the children, who were groomed to abuse younger siblings or friends, were arrested and that one was now in a children’s home.
Another child was groomed while struggling with the effects of his father dying from cancer, the judge said, and another pleaded for Wilson to stop as his grandfather was about to die but this had no effect on him.
The judge described Wilson as a “serial paedophile” and an “extremely dangerous individual”.
He told him: “You carried out a lengthy and premeditated campaign of sadistic and manipulative abuse of young boys using social media.
“Any decent human being will be astonished at the level of depravity involved.”
The offences included causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, causing a child to watch a sexual act, and arranging or facilitating the sexual exploitation of a child.
Wilson also admitted making unwarranted demands for indecent images of a child with menace, threatening to post an indecent image on social media if they did not comply.
Michael Clare, mitigating, said Wilson had admitted the offences, avoiding the need for a trial, and that the defendant was willing to work with any agency while in custody to address his problems.
Wilson would not have been brought to justice without evidence from Facebook, according to the NCA.
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Rob Jones, the agency’s director of threat leadership, said the social media giant’s proposed move to an end-to-end encryption privacy model “poses an existential threat to child protection” online.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “This sickening case is a chilling reminder of how crucial it is that tech companies play their part in combating child sexual abuse.
“It is vital that Facebook do not press ahead without amending their current end-to-end-encryption plans, otherwise sick criminals like David Wilson could still be abusing children with impunity.”
A Facebook spokesman said: “Child exploitation and grooming have no place on our platforms.”
Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, a UK charity involved in finding and removing images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet, said: “This kind of offending is becoming a marked threat to children and, sadly, we are seeing more and more material being shared online which children have been tricked, bullied, coerced, or blackmailed into making themselves.
“We know there are whole communities of predators out there, and that they are looking to contact children and abuse them from afar, often in the apparent safety of their own bedrooms.
“Parents need to have frank discussions with their children, and let them know they can go to them if they see anything or are approached by someone online.”