Berkhamsted paedophile ring boss given nine life terms
Pictured: Simon Wintle, Michael Emerton, Robert Lindsay (top row) and Thomas Perry, Paul Stevens and Matthew Webby (bottom row)
A man who led an online paedophile network has been given nine life sentences.
Michael Emerton, 33, from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, used dating websites to organise the abuse with other men.
Luton Crown Court heard he arranged the live streaming of abuse of children via a video link and on other occasions, arranged to meet the other men and take part in sex acts in front of children.
Five other men were also jailed on Wednesday.
Earlier this year Emerton admitted 20 offences, including four counts of rape of a child and three of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and in March was given seven life terms, for which he must serve a minimum of nearly 10 years. This can only be reported now.
On Wednesday he received two more life sentences after admitting further offences including conspiring with the other defendants in order to rape, commit sexual activity with a child or engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child. He will spend the rest of his life on licence.
Emerton was arrested and his computer equipment seized in November 2016 after Hertfordshire officers were contacted by another force.
Forensic examination revealed he had used dating or social media websites.
In the largest ever investigation conducted by the Hertfordshire Child Online Safeguarding Team, police identified hundreds of other child abusers in this country and abroad who had been contacting each other through websites such as Grindr, TruNude and Skype.
Judge Michael Kay QC said the case was “so shocking” that it “undermines one’s faith in humanity”.
“Never before have I read a police summary of a case which begins with a warning that the reader should be very wary of the content due to the abhorrent nature of the offending,” he said.
He said Emerton had caused psychological trauma to the children who will face a “lifetime of difficulties”.
Five other men were sentenced on Wednesday:
Paul Stevens, 54, of St Albans, admitted conspiracy to rape a child under 13 and conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child under 13 and was jailed for 10 years.
Matthew Webby, 30, of Hemel Hempstead, admitted two counts of sexual activity with a child, conspiracy to rape a child, conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child, and possession of indecent images of children, and was jailed for nine years.
Robert Lindsay, 39, of Markyate, Hertfordshire, admitted conspiracy to rape a child, conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child, making indecent images of a child, and to causing or inciting the child sexual exploitation of a 17-year-old, and was jailed for five years and three months.
Simon Wintle, 44, of Hemel Hempstead, admitted sexual activity in the presence of a child and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child and was jailed for two years and six months.
David Overall, 44, of Stevenage, admitted distributing and downloading indecent photographs of children and was sentenced to two years.
Thomas Perry, 28, from Northchurch, Hertfordshire, was found guilty on 7 December of conspiracy to rape a child under the age of 13, conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child under 13 and causing a child to watch a sexual act. He will be sentenced next month.
Ch Insp Dee Perkins said: “No stone has been left unturned in the search to identify and protect victims and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice.”
“Work is ongoing to support the victims and make sure they have the best possible chance of a normal life ahead.”
Hertfordshire Police said more than 100 other potential offenders worldwide had been identified and it was working with other law enforcement agencies and internet companies to protect children at risk of abuse.