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22 April 2015, 16:09
A man from Bedfordshire is one of seven convicted of more than 30 child sexual abuse offences, including the rape of a child.
Robin Hollyson, 30, pleaded guilty to three counts of raping a child under 13, three counts of conspiracy to rape a child, sexual assault of a child under 13 and possessing indecent images of children at recent hearing at Bristol Crown Court.
Four others from across the UK also admitted a string of offences. Two more were convicted today (Wednesday) following a trial.
The investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) was launched in September and the network of offenders began to be identified.
Bedfordshire Police had already arrested Hollyson after being alerted to a possible offence before the NCA contacted the force with information about his involvement.
He will be sentenced along with the other defendants at a later date.
The court heard the men shared indecent images and videos of children being abused, communicating via social networking forums. Evidence shows that the group's victims were mainly babies and infants, with at least one victim given stupefying drugs to enable offenders to carry out sexual abuse.
The men have been convicted of offences including the rape of a child under the age of 13, conspiracy to rape a child under the age of 13, sexual assault on a child under 13, sexual activity with a child under the age of 13, administering a substance with intent, making and possessing indecent images of children (IIOC) and breaching a Sex Offender Prevention Order (SOPO).
The victims identified so far were under the age of five at the time the offences were committed.
To date, 11 people have been arrested in the UK, three victims have been identified and 24 children safeguarded. Over 100 intelligence packages have been shared with international law enforcement agencies in every continent.
NCA officers have worked closely with Avon and Somerset Police, Bedfordshire Police, Humberside Police and Wiltshire Police, and were assisted by Greater Manchester Police, Hampshire Constabulary and Sussex Police, as well as the Crown Prosecution Service and nine local authority child safeguarding teams.
Detective Inspector Jerry Waite form Bedfordshire Police said:
"Hollyson was being managed by Bedfordshire Police, along with partner agencies, in line with national guidance and we acted swiftly to arrest and remand him as soon as the offences came to light.
This case shows the lengths these men went to in order to carry out their depraved acts. Befriending and grooming a family in order to target their child is truly sickening and clearly shows their level of determination to identify and exploit a victim.
Thankfully, such extreme cases involving a network of offenders are incredibly rare, but the use of the internet to organise abuse shows the complex challenges that law enforcement and partner agencies face in order to protect our communities from such abhorrent criminals.
Officers from our Public Protection Unit have worked closely with Avon and Somerset Police, Wiltshire and Greater Manchester as well as the National Crime Agency in order to bring these offenders to justice.
A dedicated team of detectives has been working with the family since the offences came to light and continue to support them through what must be a horrific ordeal. They have also been working alongside social services and social workers based at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)."