Man who shared abuse images in online paedophile ring cries as he gets two years

A paedophile in England who shared images of children as young as eight months old being sexually abused wept as he was jailed for two years today.

Deputy pub manager Matt De Vere, 34, was part of an online paedophile ring which shared images of children being raped and encouraged each other to share images, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Charlotte Newell said police examined five electronic devices belonging to De Vere and found more than 3,000 vile images.

Some of the images included children physically restrained with ties, another struck with a belt, and children abused while they appeared to be drugged or asleep.

De Vere, of Southview Drive, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, admitted at an earlier hearing to 13 offences including distributing and making indecent images of children, encouraging others to share images, and possession of extreme pornography, which the court heard was largely bestiality.

He appeared in the secure dock wearing a plaid shirt, had tattooed arms and was tearful for much of the hearing.

Sentencing him to two years in prison, Judge Patricia Lynch said: "You were part of a paedophile ring and the group of you were encouraging and distributing, and it's because of your actions that more vulnerable children are going to be filmed as the demand for this sort of filth increases."

A National Crime Agency handout photo of Matt De Vere.

A sexual harm prevention order was made for an indefinite amount of time, De Vere's electronic devices were confiscated and he was barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.

The online paedophile ring was infiltrated by undercover police officers in the USA and Canada, and some offenders were traced to the UK, Ms Newell said.

The paedophiles had used otherwise legitimate video conferencing software such as Skype and Zoom to communicate and share images and videos of abuse.

De Vere was initially arrested in June 2016 after investigators in the UK examined Skype conversations belonging to Peter Allott, a former deputy headteacher of a west London school who was jailed for similar offences last year.

De Vere and Allott had sent each other abuse images of children.

Ms Newell said: "Mr De Vere asked for more, saying 'please say you've got more like that, please please, best I've seen'."

Police arrested De Vere, examined five electronic devices including an iPad and smartphone, and found 3,455 indecent images of children, including 1,179 at the most serious 'Category A' level.

The offending spanned November 2015 to June 2016, but the court heard there was evidence of access to indecent material as early as 2013.

Ms Newell said De Vere used the name "Max Thunder" in online conversations and he had "a particular sexual interest in fathers abusing their sons".

Christopher Martin, mitigating, said De Vere was "disgusted with himself", had admitted his guilt at the earliest opportunity and was seeking help.

He added that De Vere was abused as a child.

Judge Lynch said she took this into account, but told De Vere: "I think I can be certain that it's not nearly as bad as some of the abuse that you were watching with your paedophile friends."

Punam Chopra, from the CPS, said: "Matt De Vere used what he believed was the anonymity of the internet to distribute distressing images of children and to encourage others to share them with him, including ones depicting the horrific abuse of a baby.

"He used legitimate conferencing software to share and receive these images and it is clear from the messages exchanged that he took pleasure in viewing child abuse.

"The CPS worked with investigators from an early stage to secure compelling evidence of De Vere's activities and faced with that evidence, he pleaded guilty."

Most Read in World