A paedophile who was the first person extradited from China to the UK after he skipped bail on a false passport was finally jailed for seven years and eight months today.
David Price, 69, fled abroad in October 2003 after being caught with hundreds of images of himself and others sexually abusing children under the age of 13.
He was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court after admitting 21 specimen counts of possessing, making and distributing indecent images of children.
Price, from Southport, Merseyside, travelled to Kenya and Tanzania before Merseyside Police tracked him down in Hubai Province, central China, where he was teaching English to primary schoolchildren.
Police spent the next six years monitoring his movements as the Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service worked to secure Chinese cooperation with his arrest.
The two countries do not have an extradition treaty but the handover was eventually secured through a diplomatic agreement.
Price was arrested by the Chinese last May and brought back to the UK under Merseyside Police escort in November.
Due to the extradition arrangement, the Crown Prosecution Service was not able to charge Price with specific sexual assault offences.
Judge Mark Brown told Price that he would have received a "considerably longer sentence" if this were not the case.
The court was told that Price, who worked in the construction industry before he fled the country, was jailed for four years in 1990 after being convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of gross indecency against a young girl.
He returned to the police's attention in May 2003 when he was caught supplying indecent images of children over the internet to an undercover officer in Colorado, United States.
Price also told the American officer, who was posing as a sex offender, he could help him travel to Dubai so that he could abuse children, the court heard.
Henry Riding, prosecuting, told the court one of the Dubai-based children was under the age of six and the others were aged six, eight and 10.
Price "preyed" on the mother of the girls, who was a Pakistani national whose husband had left her, the court was told.
She was said to be in "grinding poverty" and "moved from slum to slum".
Price wrote numerous letters to the woman, known to him as Helen, in which he applied pressure, saying the only way she could get by was to take money from him so that he could use her daughters for his own sexual gratification, the court heard.
In one letter he told her he had "no moral considerations at all".
He later told police he "rewarded" the children with trips to McDonalds and with teddy bears and sweets.
Price also used his website "kiddiepix" to facilitate meetings between the Dubai children and other paedophiles, the court heard.
Some of the pictures police seized showed the girls, some of whom were related, kissing and playing with sex toys.
On Price's website, the eight-year-old girl was described as being "even more beautiful" when "roughed up" or made to look dishevelled.
In an email to the undercover officer he even bragged about how he had "hoodwinked" the mother into getting two girls into a photoshoot at one time as he claimed they would be "happier" if more than one of them was present.
Judge Brown said: "Your mail messages about the children are abhorrent and show that you had no insight into the terrible damage you were doing to them. You abused them in a dreadful and appalling way and your conduct is rightly described as wicked and depraved.
"I have no hesitation in finding that you are a very dangerous individual.
"You preyed upon and exploited children and their mother because of the desperate financial circumstances they were in and you continued to do that until you were arrested in 2003."
When Merseyside Police raided Price's home, in Portland Street, they found four computers containing more than 800 indecent images, many featuring Price abusing the children who were all under the age of 13.
Police said 59 of the images were graded level 5 - the highest level of severity.
After being charged, Price was granted bail in October that year and obtained a false passport.
He fled initially to Kenya and Tanzania where police say it is possible that he continued abusing children.
Detectives in Merseyside used "covert" intelligence techniques to trace him to Hubai in June 2005.
It is thought Price settled in China because the UK has no extradition treaty with the country.
But unbeknown to him, a massive diplomatic effort was taking place between the UK and Chinese officials in a bid to bring him home to face justice.
He was eventually arrested by Chinese police last May and held in a local jail for six months while the extradition process made its way through the courts.
He was handed over to Merseyside Police officers who travelled to China in November and brought him back to Britain under escort.
Detective Inspector Steve Jones, of Sefton CID, who was part of the team which tracked Price down, said he was a dangerous offender.
"Price is somebody who has travelled the world extensively and has abused children," he said.
"The product of that abuse has been images that he has sought to profit from and indulge his proclivity to sexually abuse children.
"Anyone who could engage in the kind of behaviour that he has could always pose a risk to the vulnerable."
Mr Jones added: "We tracked him down using covert policing techniques and other sources. We were searching employment practices and opportunities that someone might seek over there, and other intelligence sources from wherever we could.
"I was always hopeful. There is no extradition treaty with China but there is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and we were hopeful that, with the co-operation of all member states, we could secure his extradition."
Mr Jones said the case could set a precedent for future extraditions from China to the UK.
"We'll never know until we try again whether it works but I'm just glad that we have been able to bring this man back to the UK.
"I think it was always at the back of his mind that he would be brought to justice.
"He went to at least three countries while he was on the run and we do know that he was teaching English in China prior to his extradition.
"We have got no evidence that he was offending while he was abroad but I would always respond to any new complaints or evidence that was brought against him and we would consider the investigation.
"I am delighted that we have been able to bring this man to justice and the message is we will keep trying to bring offenders to justice and protect the vulnerable.
"We are determined to bring people to justice - it is something we owe the victims.
"This man has been unlawfully at large for a number of years but my message to the public, victims and offenders is that we will pursue offenders and bring them to justice as soon as we can."
Paul Whittaker, Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: "Price thought he could evade justice by fleeing to a country where the UK has no extradition treaty. This was not the case.
"Our prosecutors joined forces with the specialist teams in the CPS national extradition unit and, together with government agencies in the UK andChina, and with investigating officers from Merseyside Police, brought this manipulative and dangerous individual before the courts."
CPS Specialist Extradition Prosecutor Alison Riley said: "This is the first - and so far the only - extradition from the People's Republic of China to the UK.
"This case proves that, even where there is no formal extradition arrangement with a country, this does not prevent us from seeking a person's extradition to face justice.
"I received a full file of papers in November 2009, prepared a formal extradition request, and depositions of fact and law were sworn at South Sefton Magistrates' Court on 17 June 2010. The extradition request was sent to the Chinese authorities in early August 2010.
"In October 2011 we were informed that Price's extradition had been approved by the Hubei High Court, and that decision had been ratified by China's Supreme People's Court.
"The final decision of the People's Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which allowed the UK extradition request, was dated 20 October 2011.
"Officers from Merseyside Police collected Price at Beijing Capital International Airport on 7 November 2011 and escorted him back to the UK.
"We have worked hard with colleagues across government and held discussions with the Chinese authorities so this extradition could take place.
"It is a tribute to all those involved in this case that they were determined that Price should be held to account for what he did and that, even when he fled to the other side of the world, this was not far enough.
"Criminals should take heed that, as Price discovered, there is no guaranteed safe hiding place."
Mr Whittaker added: "The efforts of all the agencies involved have ensured that David Price has been brought to justice for his deplorable crimes against children.
"Price believed that his crimes were victimless. However, every image he had and shared contained a child who has a family and a future and a life which Price was complicit in destroying."