London – A gang of paedophiles were branded “evil beyond rational understanding” on Friday as they were sentenced to a total of 107 years for the depraved sex abuse of infant boys.
The men groomed parents to get access to babies and pre-school children before broadcasting their rape and abuse online to other paedophiles across the world.
They travelled hundreds of miles to carry out attacks together or used internet video links to provide real-time encouragement and directions to those abusing victims.
Judge Julian Lambert, passing sentence at Bristol Crown Court, said: “In the worst nightmare, from the very deepest recesses of the mind, at the darkest hour of the night, few can have imagined the terrifying depravity which you men admit.
“What you did involved the most horrific abuse of a baby and very young children. Your thoughts and deeds are beyond human instinct and reason, and are evil beyond rational understanding.’
The seven, aged between 31 and 51, and including three previously convicted sex offenders, were found guilty of 29 child sex abuse offences, including conspiracy to rape and multiple rape of a child aged under 13.
The judge told them: “You men indulged yourselves in some of the most depraved and grossly deviant behaviour imaginable. What you did is contrary to all nature and humanity… [It] provokes tears in many and makes others feel physically sick.”
Internet logs revealed how the gang, who lived across the UK, gave advice on using “date rape” drugs or over-the-counter medication to drowse children.
Known victims include a baby, aged between three and seven months at the time of the abuse, and two four-year-old boys.
The jailed paedophiles are Robin Hollyson, 31, from Bedfordshire, John Denham, 50, from Wiltshire, Matthew Stansfield, 35, from Hampshire, Adam Toms, 33, from Somerset, Christopher Knight, 35, from Manchester, David Harsley, 51, from Yorkshire, and Matthew Lisk, 33, from Sussex.
They appeared to lead regular lives – Knight worked in the tourism industry, Hollyson was an IT expert, Stansfield ran a student advice website and former events manager Denham was a youth football coach in his spare time.
In July 2013, Harsley performed a sex act near a boy of four as Denham and Lisk watched via a video link to a hotel room at Heathrow.
Hollyson claimed to have repeatedly raped a baby from the age of three months and filmed himself doing so between December 2013 and January 2014.
In May last year, Hollyson, Stansfield and Toms met up to rape the baby, filming and sharing the incident. Hollyson was arrested in September, ending the baby’s abuse.
In April 2014, Toms administered drugs to a four-year-old boy before he and Knight abused him. Photographs of this were shared online.
Hollyson received a 24-year prison sentence plus an extension of eight years on licence, while Toms was jailed for 12 years with an extension of four years on licence.
Knight was jailed for 18 years plus an extension of six years on licence and Stansfield got a 10-year sentence with four years on licence.
Denham was jailed for eight years with four years on licence. Lisk was jailed for four years plus an extension of three years on licence and Harsley was jailed for two years
They were all placed on the sex offenders’ register for life, except for Harsley, whose length is still to be determined by the judge.
The National Crime Agency uncovered the abuse in September last year after Toms contacted the police to admit his crimes.
One of the victim’s families said the case had been “very traumatic”, adding: “As a family we now need to mend. Seeing the perpetrators brought to justice is the first step.”