Paedophile gang ‘raped baby after offering to babysit’

Abusers live-streamed attack on the internet, a court has heard

A gang of paedophiles raped and abused a baby and a pre-school child in attacks that were live streamed over the internet, a court heard today.

Members of the child sex ring preyed on the families of the youngsters they targeted - sometimes offering to babysit their victims, jurors were told.

Some would travel long distances to carry out the attacks together or watch a live stream using hi-tech video conferencing software if only one had access to a victim, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Robert Davies told the jury of eight men and four women that five of the gang have pleaded guilty to a range of offences, including rape of a child and conspiracy to rape a child during 2013 and 2014.

They are Robin Hollyson, 30; Christopher Knight, 35; Adam Toms, 33; David Harsley, 51, and Matthew Lisk, 32.

Two others, John Denham, 49, and Matthew Stansfield, 34, have denied charges of conspiracy to rape a child and are on trial.

"This prosecution will take you into a world you wish did not exist," Mr Davies said.

"The evidence exposes the shocking interest a group of men had in sexually abusing children and babies, particularly pre-school children and babies.

"A real baby was for certain abused and raped by some of those involved. Also a boy aged four or five was brought into a room while a man engaged in sexual activity for his own enjoyment as men watched live on the internet.

"Those others, particularly on the internet where part of an operation that such things would occur, even if they were not those committing the sexual acts."

Mr Davies said members of the gang would contact each other using Skype, video conferencing software and other online chatrooms.

They would also connect to the internet using the "dark web" - a way of hiding online activity, the court was told.

"The abuse would be arranged when there was a 'window of opportunity' to abuse a baby," Mr Davies said.

"Those involved in the planning of the abuse were as much a part of that abuse as those taking part in that abuse.

"The abuse was planned and was not just fantasy."

Denham, who was previously known as Benjamin Harrop, of Wiltshire denies a charge of conspiracy to rape a child under the age of 13 and the alternative of conspiracy to sexually assault a child under the age of 13.

He has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child and child pornography offences.

Stansfield, of Hampshire, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of conspiracy to rape a child under 13 and one alternative charge of conspiracy to sexually assault a child under the age of 13. He has also pleaded guilty to child pornography offences.

PA