June 2011

Four men jailed over global paedophile ring

(clockwise from top left) Ian Frost, Paul Rowland, Ian Sambridge and Paul Frost.

Four men have been jailed for running a paedophile ring that sent millions of indecent images of children around the world.

The men circulated the material to 45 countries, investigators found.

Ian Frost, 35, and Paul Rowland, 34, both of Lincolnshire, were jailed for 33 months at Nottingham Crown Court.

Paul Frost, 37, of Sheffield, received a 15-month sentence and Ian Sambridge, 32, of St Albans, received a 12-month sentence suspended for two years.

Sambridge was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work.

The men had previously admitted charges at Nottingham Crown Court. An order to recover money from the criminal enterprise was also issued under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Rowland, of Woodhall Spa, pleaded guilty to distributing, making and possessing indecent images of children.

Paul Frost and his brother Ian, from Woodhall Spa, and Sambridge admitted distributing indecent images of children.

Lincolnshire Police said 132 children in the UK had been protected as a result of the gang’s capture.

A number of men had been taken out of positions of trust where they had contact with children, including teachers, doctors, youth workers and police officers.

The investigation, codenamed Operation Alpine, began after intelligence from Germany was forwarded by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) in 2005.

IT backgrounds

Over seven years the group is thought to have made around £2m from subscriptions, even though they did not appear to have extravagant lifestyles.

Mr Justice Calvert-Smith told the court: “It seems that never once did the defendants pause to reflect that they were contributing significantly to the international market and to the abuse of children, and even if that did not concern them they did not consider that they were at risk of criminal prosecution.”

Det Supt Paul Gibson, of Lincolnshire Police, said the IT backgrounds shared by the men meant they were able to carry out the operation efficiently and at great profit.

“Certainly from Ian Frost’s point of view, clearly he’s very technically proficient, to operate a news service like this is not something a normal person could do, it needed a great deal of IT knowledge,” Det Supt Gibson said.

Officers found that 1,310 individual packages had been sent to 46 countries around the world by the news servers.

Of those receiving the illegal content involving indecent images of children, there were 211 in the UK; 38 have been dealt with to date.

The largest number of subscribers were based in the US, Det Supt Gibson said.

Speaking outside court he added: “In terms of the sentences handed down we’re really pleased – myself, the inquiry team and Ceop – that we’ve managed to achieve the results we’ve got today.

“I think the really important message to send is that the distribution of indecent images of children will not be tolerated and internet service providers who do this in the future, or anybody else, will receive a custodial sentence.”