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22 April 2015, 13:49 | Updated: 22 April 2015, 14:03
A 33-year-old man from East Somerset is due to be sentenced for his role in an organised crime group involved in sharing indecent images and videos of child abuse.
Adam Toms is one of seven men convicted as part of the national inquiry which began with a 999 call to Avon and Somerset Police.
Toms admitted charges of rape of a child under 13, two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13, administering a substance and taking/showing/possessing indecent images of children.
The men, who used social networking forums to communicate with each other, will be sentenced at a later date.
The inquiry began in September 2014 when Toms called 999 and was heard crying over the phone. Officers were sent to his home due to concerns for his welfare and he admitted sexually abusing a child under the age of five. He was arrested and interviewed.
As a result of these admissions, the investigation expanded rapidly and other defendants were identified. The resulting inquiry into an organised crime group was led by the National Crime Agency.
To date, 11 people have been arrested in the UK, three victims have been identified and 24 children safeguarded. More than 100 intelligence packages have been shared with international law enforcement agencies in every continent.
Det Supt Rachel Williams, of Avon and Somerset Police, said:
“Our initial investigation into Adam Toms resulted in the uncovering of a depraved and prolific organised crime group which abused very young children and babies. Three victims were identified and safeguarded as a result.
We called in the expertise and specialist knowledge of the National Crime Agency at an early stage as we were quick to recognise the potential national and international implications of what we’d discovered.
I would like to praise the actions of all the officers and staff involved, including the operator who took the 999 call, the officers who attended Toms’ address and the skilled investigation team for their professionalism and expert judgement during the early stages of this inquiry.
There’s no escaping the fact these men committed truly disgusting and horrifying crimes but I want to send to a message out to anyone involved in the abuse of children – you are not anonymous, you can’t hide and when we find you, you’ll be brought to justice.”
Graham Gardner, Deputy Director of Investigations at the National Crime Agency said:
“We rarely see criminal behaviour involving the sexual abuse of children to this degree. This is serious organised crime at its worst and is precisely the type of work the National Crime Agency will be focusing on.
The men involved in this group actively targeted families to facilitate the sexual abuse of their children, toddlers and babies. The depravity of these men appeared to know no bounds and is without doubt as vile as we have seen.
The NCA will continue to work with our partners, at home and abroad, to ensure those who abuse children are brought to justice.
The sexual abuse of young children is extremely distressing and will impact on parents and young people, some of whom may have been directly affected.”
Police are encouraging anyone directly affected, as well as anyone who has information about a child being abused by one of these offenders, to call the NSPCC Helpline on 0800 800 5000.
If you are a child or young person who has been sexually abused and you need advice and support, please contact Childline on 0800 1111.
If you know of a child who is in immediate danger, please call 999.