BRITISH police have seized the world’s first known “snuff” child abuse video in which a girl is seen strangled – but for more than a year they done nothing to identify her.
The existence of “snuff” pornography, in which the victim is killed on camera, has long been rumoured, but until last year no police officer had ever seen one.
A film seized during a raid on a Latvian man’s house in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, shows a teenage girl begging a man not to hurt her before she is raped, then strangled with a wire causing her to foam at the mouth and her eyes to roll back into her head.
She is then wrapped tightly in a plastic sheet and dragged from the room. The police officer leading the inquiry was convinced she was murdered.
The judge who sentenced Andreas Bauminis, 22, (pictured above) to eight months in jail for possessing that film and other material in March also said she was probably killed.
Click this for full profile on: Andreas Bauminis – Skelmersdale
From her accent, police believe the girl to be American, but despite having images of her and her apparent killer for 15 months, they have done nothing to help trace them.
Neither Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), which is part of the National Crime Agency (NCA), nor any US agency such as the FBI have yet been sent the video. Both CEOP and the US agencies have powerful facial recognition software.
Campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson said the revelations highlighted a serious failure in the UK’s policing of child abuse images.
He is calling on the Government to establish a specialised independent agency similar to the successful Operation Predator in the US, which has arrested 8,000 paedophiles since it was launched in 2003.
Mr Watson said: “If the view of the judge and the police in this case is true, then Britain’s police have sat on evidence of a child murder for over a year. “It’s negligent and scandalous that the utmost urgency has not been applied with this case.
“The Americans should have been immediately informed and the NCA should have picked up the investigation.” This case highlights the desperate inadequacies in our country’s arrangements for investigating serious sexual abuse of children.
“The National Crime Agency is not taking child abuse seriously enough and regional police forces are ill equipped to act.” The solution is simple: an independent, and properly funded national child exploitation investigation team similar to the US model.
“The Americans have had huge success in rescuing children from child pornography and in bringing offenders to justice. “That’s exactly what we need.”
The raid on Bauminis’s house in February 2013 came after a tip-off from the Russian Interior Ministry, which had monitored an upload of child pornography from a UK-based computer address.
The Russian government contacted CEOP, which traced the computer to a house in Skelmersdale.
When Lancashire Police raided the home, they discovered an “enormous” computer that one officer said resembled “something out of a submarine”.
Sick films, including Japanese cartoons depicting sexual abuse of children by adults and animals, were found.
However, it was the other 20-minute video featuring a white, blonde girl of about 14 years of age and made about two years ago that shook even hardened officers.
Detective Constable Edward Wenham, who led the investigation, said it was the “worst thing I had seen by a country mile”.
He said: “My firm belief was this child was definitely killed. A man in his 40s was decorating; he had a goatee beard and you could see his face quiet clearly. The young girl came into the room and asked him for money to go to cheer leading camp.
“The girl was white.
It was apparent that the man was either her father or stepfather.
“The man began to shout obscenities, then he sexually abused her before strangling her and sexually abusing her again.
“After that he laid out a clear plastic sheet and laid the body in this, then wrapped it tightly around her.
“It took about three minutes for this. I was convinced this was not acting and that the girl was dead.
“If she had been play-acting when the plastic was wrapped around her face she could not have been able to keep so still. “If it was acting, it was better than an Oscar-winning performance: her eyes didn’t blink or move at all.
”Other horrific videos showing even younger girls being abused were also found, which detectives believe were made in Russia.”
Mr Wenham said: “It was very difficult to sleep at night after viewing them all. “I’ve got two little children myself.” Bauminis was arrested at the factory where he worked.
He was living with his brother, his brother’s wife and their two young children. At his arrest, he admitted downloading the videos from a “file sharing programme” but later refused to answer all further questions.
He later pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography. Sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court in March, Judge Dennis Watson QC said while it was difficult to be certain that the girl had died on camera “all the evidence points to the fact that she almost certainly did”.
He imposed a prison sentence of eight months and Bauminis could be released this summer. Mike Hames, the former head of Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Unit, described the seizure of the “snuff” video as “incredibly important” because it appeared to verify long held suspicions such material existed. He said it was vital to comb through Bauminis’s contacts.
“You have to work on the presumption he’ll be part of a wider network of paedophiles they’ll be sharing child pornography between them.
“This is a worldwide problem and it requires cooperation between the police forces around the world. “In this case it’s even more important the images of the abusers and victims are shared. This is a murder – and the murder must be stopped before he does it again.”
Lancashire Police, like almost all regional police forces in Britain, does not have a specialist child pornography investigation unit. The Sunday Express understands that the general volume of work at Lancashire Police has caused the delay in contacting CEOP.
However, the video will now be sent, a force spokesman said. The eight month sentence for Bauminis was calculated after he was given a four month discount for an early guilty plea.