Paedophile gang committed some of most 'vile and depraved' offences police had seen

The sex ring was described as having 'tentacles that go round the world'

The gang of paedophiles: (top row, left to right) John Denham, Matthew Stansfield, Matthew Lisk, (bottom row) David Harsley, Robin Hollyson, Chris Knight and Adam Toms
The gang of paedophiles: (top row, left to right) John Denham, Matthew Stansfield, Matthew Lisk, (bottom row) David Harsley, Robin Hollyson, Chris Knight and Adam Toms

A gang of paedophiles who raped and abused babies, toddlers and children under five in attacks that were streamed over the internet have been described by police as committing some of the most “vile and depraved” offences they had ever seen.

The sex ring – described as having “tentacles that go round the world” – manipulated families, in one case grooming a mother and father before their baby was born.

Members of the gang would often travel long distances to carry out the attacks together or watch the abuse over the internet. All members face lengthy jail sentences.

Chilling online chat revealed that members of the gang, who live across the UK, would offer advice and guidance to others on drugging their young victims.

Seven men – aged between 30 and 51 and including three convicted sex offenders – were brought to justice following an investigation led by the National Crime Agency.

The details can be reported in full for the first time after the trial of John Denham, 49, and Matthew Stansfield, 34, ended at Bristol Crown Court with their convictions.

The others – Robin Hollyson, 30; Christopher Knight, 35; Adam Toms, 33; David Harsley, 51; and Matthew Lisk, 32 – had earlier pleaded guilty to charges they faced.

They all face “significant” prison sentences and some could be jailed for life when they return to court on a date to be fixed.

Hollyson (previously known as Robin Fallick), Stansfield and Harsley were convicted sex offenders, and Denham, who changed his name from Benjamin Harrop, was a respected football coach.

Investigators, speaking before the verdicts, said they believe there are other victims.

The gang hid behind a veil of respectability, with careers and families, to habitually target children under the age of five in Yorkshire, the South-east, and the South-west.

Police described the men as “monsters in disguise”, working together to commit some of the most “vile and depraved” child sex offences the authorities had ever seen. The National Crime Agency said the men met after discussing their interests in young children on legitimate social media and adult sex sites.

The gang was described as “incredibly skilled” at grooming families, even striking up relationships with pregnant women to abuse their babies.

Graham Gardner, the deputy director of investigations at the agency, said the ring “has got tentacles that go round the world”.

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