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Monday, 7 April 2014

Dark reach of global child sex ring uncovered in UK had spread from US to Philippines

The Independent 

Inside the nondescript bungalow, police officers were met with the stale and acrid smell of urine. In the bedroom, packets and empty cartons covered the beds. Rubbish was strewn across the floor and was piled so high that it reached the window sills.

The previous 10 years had not been good for Timothy Ford, the man who lived alone in the small house in a tidy street in the Northamptonshire town of Kettering. It had started with a second jail sentence for possessing indecent images of children. After his release, he was hit by a bus, left paralysed from the waist down, and confined to a wheelchair. He was clearly struggling to look after himself.

Ford spent most of his time on his computer. That was what the police were looking for when they came knocking with a search warrant, after receiving a tip that he had been online talking to people who may have shared his obsession for children. What they found on the computer in June 2011 led to a dogged hunt which spanned continents, and delved into the darkest recesses of the internet.

It takes a long time to unravel the secrets of a computer, even one where little obvious attempt has been made to hide what was on it. The examination of Ford's revealed 600 images of children, both stills and videos. Some included adults conducting and orchestrating sexual acts.

It was clear that some of the children were foreign. Chat logs and emails talked of sending 2,000 to Carlos and 400 to Peter, although the currency was not specified. On some of the videos, the tapping of the keyboard could be heard in the background.

"It was clear he was bartering with older children and parents to get them to commit sexual acts that he could watch with a webcam," said Detective Sergeant Gan Thayanithy, from Northamptonshire police. "He'd say: 'I want you to do this,' which they would do after negotiations. This is how we first realised that it was a much bigger investigation than indecent images of children."

The force started to work with internet service providers to try to identify other people that Ford was in contact with, as he shared the images with paedophiles in the UK and abroad. Police retrieved his conversations with Porkchop91, aka Thomas Owen, a 34-year-old fellow paedophile from the Wirral. 

Ford hello my friend, how are you?

Owen very good.

Ford what ages do you like?

Owen i love all boys... but especially 6-12... have you been lucky enough to have fun with boys in the flesh.

Ford not in this country. i am looking at the Philippines. i know a whole family of them ;-).

Owen can i ask what the boys you sponsor send you?

Ford i get some shows over the net.

Owen live shows?

Ford yes.

Owen awww that sounds great.

Ford, now aged 53, was on bail as police slowly built their case. Police knocked on his door again in April the following year to once more pick their way through the sodden papers and rubbish. Underneath the bed, they found a hidden laptop.

It was, according to detectives, a "goldmine" of information. Back at the lab, it revealed that Ford had spent his months on bail continuing to view child abuse images and plotting his escape to a new life abroad.

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