December 2018

Already convicted paedophile used live streaming to make child sexual abuse movies

A convicted paedophile has been jailed for eight years after making indecent videos of young girls over a popular live streaming app.

Matthew Claridge, 49, tried to bribe girls as young as 10 to supply indecent pictures and videos of themselves, and threatened to make the images of those who relented public if they stopped.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Claridge targeted girls using the Live.me live streaming app, which allows users to broadcast videos of themselves from their phones, tablets or computers.

Claridge used his computer skills to send hundreds of “scatter gun” scripted messages to young girls under his screen name CuddleMonkey, saying they could earn money by sending him explicit pictures or live streaming videos of themselves.

One scripted message read: “hey gorgeous girl….yr SOOO beautiful how would you like to top up your pocket money and really treat youself?? if you want to do some private shows for me, I can send you money……message me back and we can chat about it. it’s just what you’ve been doing, but you get money for it. love you loads.”

Claridge asked children who responded to him to provide custom pictures or videos and encouraged them to move from the live streaming platform to other apps where they could stream privately to him.

He wrote to one 12-year-old girl in the UK: “Want a little extra pocket money? A few girls on here do custom pics and vids for me in return for cash, clothes, jewellery etc.

“If yr interested, you’d have to keep it super secret! message me back and we can chat.

“Love you.”

The girl later told police she was pressurised into showing her breasts during a live stream.

Videos found on Claridge’s tablet device included another 12-year-old girl from the UK taking her clothes off and a girl from the US carrying out a sex act who had been offered 100 dollars (£79). Both videos were created by their live stream broadcasts being recorded.

Prosecutor Simon Parry said: “Claridge would then threaten and pressurise children when they would stop sending him images.

“He would threaten to put the pictures online for their friends and family to see.”

Claridge was also operating an online chatroom for child sex abuse called #TheOtherPlace, where users shared links to thousands of indecent images of children.

He also wrote a blog which explained how to access the online chatroom and gave technical tips and rules that users had to follow.

He bragged to users about the “very lax” moderation on Live.me and reminded them to use anonymous communication software like Tor and virtual private online networks.

At the time of his offending between April 2015 and May 2017, he was already on licence having been convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 2008.

Claridge was arrested by the National Crime Agency in May last year following their investigation into two other men who founded the chatroom, Brett McBain, 53, and David Buckley, 56.

They were sentenced at the Central Criminal Court in July 2017 to five years’ and three years’ imprisonment respectively for distributing indecent images of children.

Claridge pleaded guilty to 13 offences, including four counts of making an indecent photo of a child, two counts of possession of indecent photos of a child, and two counts of attempting to cause a girl under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity of a non penetrative nature.

He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute indecent photos of children, distributing indecent photos of a child, blackmail, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and sexual communication with a child.

Harry Baker, defending, said: “Apart from the guilty plea, I don’t think there’s much more I can add.”

Recorder of Cardiff, Judge Eleri Rees, told Claridge it was “clear you are a continuing danger to children”.

She said: “You targeted indiscriminately large numbers of children in the hope of catching a victim. And you did.

“You then persuaded, cajoled, bribed and threatened children to do your bidding.

“You are a corrupting influence and gave no thought to the distress to the children or their parents.”

Claridge, from Gwaelod-y-Garth, Cardiff, was sentenced to eight years in jail. He was also given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and will remain on the sex offenders register indefinitely.