Members of a British paedophile ring who attacked babies and toddlers and streamed the abuse online have been sentenced to a total of 78 years in prison today.
The judge at Bristol Crown Court described all seven men as "beyond human instinct and evil".
They had been convicted of 30 child sex abuse offences, including conspiracy to rape and the rape of a child under the age of 13.
They then used their crimes as “currency” with other paedophiles in order to exchange other material.
Passing sentence at Bristol Crown Court, Judge Julian Lambert said: “In the worst nightmare, from the very deepest recesses of the mind, at the darkest hour of the night, few can have imagined the terrifying depravity which you men admit.
“What you contemplated and what you did involved the most horrific abuse of a baby and very young children.
“Your thoughts and deeds are beyond human instinct and reason, and are evil beyond rational understanding.
“You men indulged yourselves in some of the most depraved and grossly deviant behaviour imaginable. The depth to which you sank is astounding and highly shocking to all decent people.
“What you did is contrary to all nature and humanity and you each appear to have a chilling tendency to centre the world on yourselves and your depraved desires without regard for the innocent and vulnerable.
“Your conduct is of deep concern to the public and people are outraged at what you have done. What you did provokes tears in many and makes others feel physically sick.
“Given the strength of public feeling I consider that retribution has a very large part to play in the sentencing exercise. This is no case for treatment and rehabilitation outside prison.”
The group will remain on licence when released, and then be placed on the sex offenders' register for life.
The ring preyed on the families of the youngsters they targeted, in one case grooming a mother and father before their baby was born.
Members would often travel long distances to carry out sickening attacks together, or watch the abuse over the internet if only one had access to a victim.
Chilling online chat revealed that members of the gang, who lived across the UK, would offer advice to others on how to drug young victims.
The seven men are aged between 31 and 51 and include three previously convicted sex offenders.
Pleaded guilty to three counts of rape of a child under 13.
Hollyson befriended a couple with a baby and was allowed to babysit. He then filmed the rape of the child and sent it to others. A copy of the film was recovered from co-accused John Denham’s computer.
Pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to rape a child under 13, sexual assault of a child under 13, and taking, showing, possessing indecent images of children and extreme pornography.
Hollyson received a 24-year prison sentence plus an extension of eight years on licence.
The judge told him: “You determined cruelly and callously to exploit a family and prey on their baby for your perverted sexual purposes.
“You were keen to involve others in your deviant sexual activity. You determined to share the abuse of the baby with other perverted men and to publish your corrupt sexual exploits in the darkest parts of cyberspace.”
Pleaded guilty to the rape of a child under 13, two counts of conspiracy to rape a child under 13, two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13, and taking, showing, possessing indecent images of children.
Knight used chatroom names including “smlad79” on Skype.
He received an 18-year sentence plus an extension of six years on licence.
The judge told him: “You were a leading light in the group plotting the sexual abuse of children. Your dark fantasies were prominent in recruiting some members of the group.
“You bear a heavy burden of responsibility for exciting perverted desires in others and for recruiting others into very serious conspiracies to rape. Your involvement in these matters is extensive and serious.”
Pleaded guilty to the rape of a child under 13, two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13, administering a substance in order to carry out sexual activity, and taking, showing, possessing indecent images of children.
Toms received a 12-year sentence plus an extension of four years on licence.
The judge told him: “You have abused a baby and a little boy directly and are responsible for collecting and disseminating indecent images, which indirectly leads to the further abuse of children.
“What you did directly was serious in the extreme and although your conscience eventually prevailed above your lust there must still be a very significant sentence.”
Pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to rape a child under 13 but was convicted by a jury after trial.
Pleaded guilty to breaching a sex offenders’ prevention order, and making and possessing indecent images of children.
Stansfield, who runs his own business, has a previous conviction from May last year for possessing child abuse images.
His chatroom names include “pervpo”, “pompeylad1980”, “mstans1980”, “pervlad111”, domtop1980“ and ”londonlad1980“.
Stansfield received a 10-year sentence plus an extension of four years on licence.
The judge told him: “You have a long-standing and deeply entrenched longing for sexual experiences with children.
“I conclude that you are dangerous in that there is a significant risk of serious harm to others from the commission of further specified offences by you.”
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child under 13.
The hospital worker befriended a “vulnerable” pregnant single woman having met her at a social club. He was looking after the boy, now aged four, and committed a sex act in front of the child while John Denham and Matthew Lisk watched over Skype from a hotel room.
Harsley was jailed for two years.
The judge told him: “A pre-sentence report assesses that you present a high risk of sexual recidivism and that the impact of further offending by you would be serious in the sense that it would be long-lasting and difficult or impossible to recover from.”
Pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to rape a child under 13 and was acquitted by a jury following trial.
Pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to sexually assault a child under 13 but was convicted by the jury.
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sexually assault a child under 13.
Denham, a former actor turned events manager, was in a hotel room with Matthew Lisk while Harsley was with the child.
Pleaded guilty to possessing, making and distributing indecent images of children and extreme pornography.
The married father of two used chatroom names including “jackharper007”, “k9party”, “lovethem2dontu”, “ijustlovethem-uk”, “babyf***er” and “dirtydeviluk”.
Denham received an eight-year sentence plus an extension of four years on licence.
The judge told him: “You have shown a deeply disturbing sexual interest in the young. I am driven to the conclusion that you pose a significant risk to the young in future.”
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child under 13.
Lisk was in a hotel room with Denham while Harsley was with the child.
Pleaded guilty to making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children.
Lisk received a four-year sentence plus an extension of three years on licence.
The judge told him: “The images you retained involved a very large amount of category A material.
“In over 11 years on the bench these are the worst abuse images I have seen among the tens of thousands I have considered it my duty to view.”
Ian Glover, of the UK's National Crime Agency, described the inquiry as “extremely challenging”.
“We have had to investigate contact offences with extremely young children and a linked international network of paedophiles,” the senior investigator said.
“This is by far the worst paedophile group I have investigated.
“They are abusing extremely young children, they are ingratiating themselves with families and not only are they abusing victims but then putting it out on the world wide web for others to see.
“Then they are linking with further paedophile groups abroad who are conducting the same abuse and sharing the results of that abuse.”
Mr Glover said Hollyson groomed a pregnant mother and her partner in order to win their trust and get access to their child once it was born.
“Other members of the group have also groomed other families, got themselves into a position of trust, so they can commit offences against these victims,” he said.
“Once they have committed offences they are linking in with other members of the group, using new technology and streaming offences over the internet for the sexual gratification of the other paedophiles.
“They then arrange to meet up and abuse some of the victims as a group.
“Some of the victims have been treated as a commodity, to be passed onto others and to be filmed, to be abused and that abuse shown to other paedophiles as a form of currency, so they can get other material back and access to other children.”
Mr Glover said that because of the age of the victims, a case was built using data retrieved from internet service providers.
“During this investigation there were no witnesses as the victims were too young to give evidence – they couldn’t speak up for themselves,” he said.
“So we had to go out and find that data and other evidence to convict these paedophiles. Law enforcement only gets 12 months to obtain that data from the service providers.
“One thing to bear in mind is once this data is gone, it’s gone – it’s destroyed. This hampers the investigation and we can’t then go and link paedophiles together.
“In this case we didn’t start the investigation until nine months after some offences, so it left us a very short period of time to obtain that data.”
Mr Glover said officers from the National Crime Agency had shared intelligence gathered on other paedophiles during the investigation with authorities from across the world.
“We are expecting more convictions in the UK and abroad. Our investigation continues and we have got other offenders on bail at this moment in time,” he added.