Matthew Falder, one of Britain’s most prolific paedophiles, has been jailed for 32 years after blackmailing victims into carrying out depraved sexual and physical acts.
The Cambridge graduate admitted 137 offences relating to 46 complainants after being caught by an international inquiry led by the National Crime Agency.
The 29-year-old was arrested in June last year after three traumatised victims, who were tricked into sending him humiliating images, attempted to end their own lives.
Sentencing “warped and sadistic” Falder in Birmingham Crown Court on Monday for “a tale of ever increasing depravity”, Judge Philip Parker QC said: “As for your equally extraordinary sexual offending – no-one who knew you above ground had an inkling of what you were doing below the surface.”
Branding him an “internet highwayman”, he added: “You wanted to assume total control over your victims.
“Your behaviour was cunning, persistent, manipulative and cruel.”
A previous hearing at Birmingham Crown Court was told Falder coerced male and female victims into producing “increasingly severe self-generated indecent images of themselves, the focus of these images being to humiliate and degrade”.
Opening the facts of the case against Falder, prosecutor Ruona Iguyovwe told the earlier hearing many of the images were then distributed on so-called “hurtcore” websites showing material depicting sexual and physical abuse.
Falder, who treated victims both as sex objects and as objects of derision, posted on one forum “100 things we want to see at least once”.
In remarks in that post, he suggested “a young girl being used as a dartboard”, production of a video depicting a child’s bones being “slowly and deliberately broken”, and the abuse of “a paralysed child”.
For the victims, Judge Parker said at Falder’s sentencing: “The damage is on-going for these individuals. It will never end, knowing the abuse caused by you still exists in other unknown persons’ computers.”
The judge, who also concluded Falder was a dangerous offender, added: “These sentencing remarks underplay your relentless, obsessive desire to continue committing offences.”
Judge Parker told him: “Matthew Falder, you are 29 years old and prior to this you had no previous conviction.
“You were brought up by a loving family in Cheshire, excelled at school, went up to Cambridge (University), graduated and emerged with a Master’s and a PhD.
“One of your tutors said you were one of the finest students he’d ever supervised and your work had an international impact.
“Therefore you are extremely talented and had a close group of friends, were the life and soul of the party, and had a dynamic social magnetism.
“You became a lecturer at university in Birmingham – where you were arrested on September 21 2017.”
Speaking after sentence, NCA senior investigating officer Matt Sutton said: “In more than 30 years of law enforcement I’ve never come across an offender whose sole motivation was to inflict such profound anguish and pain. Matthew Falder revelled in it.
“I’ve also never known such an extremely complex investigation with an offender who was technologically savvy and able to stay hidden in the darkest recesses of the dark web.
“This investigation represents a watershed moment.
“Falder is not alone so we will continue to develop and deliver our capabilities nationally for the whole law enforcement system to stop offenders like him from wrecking innocent lives.
“I commend the victims for their bravery and I urge anyone who is being abused online to report it. There is help available.”
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said the sentence “sends a message to paedophiles that they will pay for their crimes while, hopefully giving other child abuse victims the confidence to come forward and seek justice”.
Khan added that Barnado’s wants to “encourage parents to talk to their children about the potential dangers online and know what new apps they’re using and which websites they’re visiting, so they can help keep them safe”.