Child abuse was streamed live to gang, jury hears

Lady Justice, at the top of the dome of the Central Criminal Court Image copyright PA

Paedophiles who raped and abused a baby and a young boy streamed attacks online for other members of an alleged child sex ring to watch, a court has heard.

Those involved - who preyed on young families - travelled long distances to carry out attacks together, Bristol Crown Court was told.

Attacks were streamed live using hi-tech video software, prosecutors said.

Matthew Stansfield, 34, from Hampshire, and John Denham, 49, from Wiltshire, both deny conspiring to rape a child.

Prosecutor Robert Davies told the jury that the evidence in the case would "take you into a world you wish did not exist".

"The evidence exposes the shocking interest a group of men had in sexually abusing children and babies - particularly pre-school children and babies," he said.

"A real baby was for certain abused and raped by some of those involved."

'Window of opportunity'

Members of the gang would contact each other using Skype, video conferencing software and other online chatrooms, he added.

They would connect to the internet using the "dark web" - hiding their online activity - the jury heard.

"The abuse would be arranged when there was a 'window of opportunity' to abuse a baby", Mr Davies added.

Mr Denham - who was previously known as Benjamin Harrop - denies a charge of conspiracy to rape a child under the age of 13 and an alternative charge of conspiracy to sexually assault a child under the age of 13.

He has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child and child images offences.

Mr Stansfield denies two charges of conspiracy to rape a child under 13 and one alternative charge of conspiracy to sexually assault a child under the age of 13.

He has pleaded guilty to child images offences.

Mr Davies told the jury that five men had pleaded guilty to a range of other offences.

They are Robin Hollyson, 30, from Bedfordshire; Christopher Knight, 35, from Manchester; David Harsley, 51, from Humberside, Matthew Lisk, 32, from Sussex, and Adam Toms, 33.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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