Baby rape plot was 'pie in the sky', Bristol court hears

Bristol Crown Court
Image caption The two accused have admitted child pornography offences in their trial at Bristol Crown Court

A paedophile accused of conspiring to rape a baby has told a court in Bristol the alleged plan was "pie in the sky".

Former actor John Denham, 49, said conversations he had had about it were "fantasy" and he did not think "any of that stuff" would happen.

Mr Denham, from Wiltshire, has pleaded guilty to child pornography offences and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

He and co-accused Matthew Stansfield, 34, deny conspiracy to rape a child.

They also deny conspiracy to sexually assault a child under the age of 13.

Mr Stansfield, from Hampshire, has pleaded guilty to child pornography offences.

The court heard that the alleged plan to rape a baby was to have taken place on 17 January last year in Bedfordshire.


However, it did not happen because another man, Robin Hollyson, who had access to the intended victim, had been detained in hospital.

Hollyson, 30, has already pleaded guilty to the rape of a child and conspiracy to rape a child during 2013 and 2014.

Mr Denham, who has two children and was previously known as Benjamin Harrop, said in court he did not believe the intended victim existed.

But he admitted that months afterwards he had watched a video showing Hollyson raping the child.

The court has heard how members of a gang raped and abused young children, live streaming the attacks over the internet.

The men contacted each other using Skype, video conferencing software and online chatrooms.

'Real victims'

Mr Denham said he had begun by viewing adult pornography online but after seeing an image of a young teenage girl performing a sex act on a man he became "oddly fascinated" by child pornography.

He said he became "desensitised" to what he was seeing on screen and the age range "dropped lower and lower".

He said he was "ashamed" of deriving sexual gratification from child pornography and now understood there were "real victims".

"It wasn't reality for me at the time," he said.

"When I wasn't online and when I was in the real world I viewed children as they should be viewed. I didn't look at them in a sexual way at all."

The trial continues.