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26 August 2010, 17:04 | Updated: 26 August 2010, 17:20
The ringleader of an international child porn network from West Sussex has been jailed for four years today after admitting to sharing up to 100,000 indecent images on Facebook.
Convicted sex offender Ian Green, 45, from Worthing, West Sussex, pleaded guilty to a string of crimes relating to the making, possessing and distributing of indecent images of children when he appeared at Chichester Crown Court.
Sentencing him, Judge Charles Byers said he was the instigator of a ``sophisticated operation''.
``These are the sorts of images which right-thinking people can never condone.
``These are real children who are abused in order to satisfy the sexual pleasures of you and those who you seek to communicate with,'' he added.
The judge said that Green and the other Facebook users he shared the images with were, ``exploiting these children in the worst possible way''.
The Court heard45 year old Ian Green, a registered sex offender who lived in rented accommodation in Littlehampton Road, Worthing, co-ordinated an international network of paedophiles by using the social networking site Facebook to share child sexual abuse images.
He pleaded guilty at Chichester Crown Court to possession , making distributing and view to distributing child abuse images. He also pleaded guilty to breaching his requirements on the Sex Offenders Register.
The paedophile network was smashed in an international operation led in the UK by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and Sussex Police, in partnership with police in Australia, Canada and the USA.
CEOP investigators infiltrated the network and discovered that unemployed Green was enabling carefully selected contacts to access up to three private Facebook groups. At the point at which contacts were able to demonstrate their trustworthiness to Green - usually through adding their own child abuse images - he would facilitate access to the next group. Each group contained more extreme images and films. Green used a multitude of false Facebook profiles, group accounts and email addresses to download and distribute vile images which were shared on his homepage ('wall') and in his mailbox.
Green was arrested by officers from Sussex Police's Paedophile On Line Investigation Team (POLIT)who then launched an investigation to gather evidence of his offences.
DC Martin Harmer from Sussex's Police's POLIT said: "As a result of information given to us by CEOP, Green was arrested by Sussex officers and we then set about gathering evidence in relation to his crimes. This was a particularly disturbing case - Green cleverly set up private Facebook accounts containing images of child abuse and then gave access to other paedophiles.
"Every child depicted in images such as these is a victim. We'll continue to work tirelessly with other organisations such as CEOP to ensure that we identify those who perpetuate these vile crimes, and ensure they get the justice they deserve."
Detective Inspector Ali Eaton, who heads the POLIT, added: "This is another successful investigation and conviction for our Sussex POLIT, a small dedicated team of detectives based in Brighton. We work closely with CEOP and other forces across the country to identify and prosecute these offenders. This is a growing area of offending but our expertise is increasing.
"With the nature of this type of investigation there are suspects from across the world, as this case demonstrates. I hope this sentence sends a robust message out that possessing, making and distributing child abuse images on line will not be tolerated.
"We must never forget the child victims that are abused for the gratification of these paedophiles through the viewing and sharing of the indecent images. Green's sentence is a reminder to us all why our work and liaison is so important."
Jim Gamble, Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, says:
"This network was made up of people who share an interest in viewing extremely disturbing images of children suffering horrific abuse. All the officers working on this investigation - both in the UK and in Australia, America, Canada and elsewhere - shared a unwavering determination to safeguard children affected by this network and to bring those involved to justice. Offenders are not limited by their geography and neither are we. Operation Ocean should send a clear message to others who think that online environments offer them anonymity in their offending. Everything you do leaves a digital footprint."