June 2018

Paedophile kidnapped child in Hull park weeks after sexually abusing young boy

A paedophile who chatted online about killing a baby was twice arrested and released on bail before going on to kidnap a child from a Hull park.

Ben Herring, 21, had also looked for work as a babysitter.

He was first arrested in January 2016 after he was caught distributing “vile” images of child sexual abuse, including of a toddler being raped.

Less than a month later, he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy.

After being arrested and interviewed a second time, Herring was again allowed back on the streets, until in May that year he kidnapped a boy aged seven from a Hull park with the intention of sexually assaulting him.

The youngster was being carried towards bushes when he managed to struggle free and run off.

Herring has now been jailed for life after a judge ruled he was dangerous and posed a “substantial” risk to the public.

Hull Crown Court heard many of the images were of babies or very young children and featured “restraint and coercion”, and of the victims being “bound and prepared for serious sexual abuse”.

When Herring was first arrested for distributing child abuse images, after information gathered by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) service, he was administrator of a messaging service called “onlysendbaby”.

Claire Holmes, prosecuting, said police also found chats about abusing babies, with Herring “questioning other users whether they would kill a baby”. He had also searched for babysitting jobs in Hull.

In the kidnapping incident, the victim was on a swing in a children’s play area near Porter Street, city centre, when Herring approached from behind and began pushing him. He asked the child “Do you want to come for a walk?”, to which the boy said “No”.

Herring then picked the boy up from behind and “started to carry him away to the bushes”. But with the boy “pushing and moving” to get away, Herring put him down and he ran off crying.

Sentencing Herring on Monday, Judge David Tremberg told him of the kidnapping: “Had that boy gone with you, or had you succeeded in taking him away, it is clear by your admission to count two [kidnap with intent to commit a sexual offence] that you would have submitted him to sexual abuse.

“And given your interest and preoccupation, there was, in my judgement, a significant risk this abuse would have taken a substantially graver form than your behaviour in count one [sexual assault of a child under 13].”

As well as pleading guilty to those two offences, Herring, of Hessle Road, west Hull, also admitted three offences of distributing indecent photographs of children.

Miss Holmes said when his mobile phone was examined after the kidnapping, more extreme images of child abuse were found – including of a four-year-old girl with a bag tied over her head, her eyes closed, and the word “rape” written “in dark colour on her torso”.

These images had been “created” just a month earlier, which Miss Holmes said showed “strong evidence of the motive of the kidnap”.

Herring’s minimum tariff was set at 17 months, but he can only be released when the parole board finds it is safe to do so.