Jailed paedophiles set up chat room to distribute 'the most disgusting' images

Two paedophiles have been jailed for setting up a chat room on the dark web to distribute hundreds of thousands of images of "the most disgusting" child abuse.

David Buckley, 54, and Brett McBain, 51, admitted founding now defunct #TheOtherPlace in 2014, describing it as "a channel for the respectful appreciation of youthful beauty".

In reality, it saw up to 60 users at a time sharing links to as many as 2,500 indecent images of children in any 24-hour period, including some classed in the most severe category A.

Over two years, self-styled "King of the Castle" McBain shared 200,000 indecent images via the chat room while Buckley posted links to more than 30,000 indecent images, the Old Bailey heard.

McBain, from Balham, south London, pleaded guilty to 10 charges relating to the distribution of indecent images while Buckley, of Goole, East Yorkshire, who posed as a woman online, admitted a single charge of conspiring to distribute images with him.

Recorder Brian Altman QC sentenced McBain to five years in prison and jailed Buckley for three years.

He told the pair: "This is an extremely grave case of its kind. Particularly in the case of McBain, the very high numbers and nature of the images involved are quite simply staggering."

He said the channel had been set up with the purpose of distributing "the most disgusting images of children one could ever imagine".

The court heard the pair met through another similar channel on the dark web before they decided to set up their own rival operation.

National Crime Agency officers were tipped off by Western Australian Police that someone with the username "MrBrett" was always in the chat room.

Officers found "MrBrett" was McBain and he was arrested at home in May last year while logged into #TheOtherPlace.

Brett McBain

McBain told officers he was "officially screwed" as he was found in possession of more than 160,000 child abuse images, as well as an electronic diary that detailed his fantasies of sexually abusing children.

Friendless McBain, who revelled in the kudos of his online activities, claimed the chat room dealt in a "grey area of child porn" although the court heard he had pictures of victims as young as four years old.

Chat logs recovered from McBain's laptop linked him with Ladybird - AKA Buckley - who was arrested by officers from NCA's CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) Command in August last year.

Mitigating, Dominic Thomas said McBain was an alcoholic who was "glad" to be arrested to "sort himself out".

Rina Hill described Buckley as a solitary man with alcohol and drug issues.

She said: "Mr Buckley maintains the real buzz and thrill for him in his interest in this channel was in the fact his persona as a woman meant that others gave him a lot of attention and made him feel less lonely."

Martin Ludlow from the National Crime Agency said: "These two like-minded individuals brazenly set up a chat room for the sole purpose of viewing and sharing child sexual abuse images.

They never met in real life but managed to orchestrate and run the site for two years by communicating with each other online.

"We have dismantled #TheOtherPlace in its entirety, stopping victims being re-victimised each and every time their image is viewed".

Detective Senior Sergeant Colin Keen from Western Australia Police (WA) said his work with the NCA led to significant breakthroughs in protecting children worldwide.

He said: "WA Police initiated Operation Amadeus after investigating the potential distribution of child exploitation material through online chat rooms, and particularly though the Chat Channel #TheOtherPlace.

David Buckley

"Our investigations immediately led to the identification of children at risk, and a number of men in Australia were charged as a result."

Punam Chopra, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "By facilitating access to thousands of indecent images of children, these men helped to fuel a demand for further abuse on the dark web."

An NSPCC spokesperson said: "McBain and Buckley went to great lengths to fuel a vile trade in child sexual abuse.

"Every single one of these images is a crime scene and real children are abused so they can be created.

"Viewing and sharing this horrendous material creates a market for it and it is right that offenders who do so, like McBain and Buckley, face the courts for their crimes.

"Tech companies, government, law enforcement and charities, like the NSPCC, are working together to tackle this growing issue, but more needs to be done to rid the online world of this horrific material."

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