'Depraved' 50-year-old man who plotted to sexually assault a seven-month-old child has been sentenced to 20 years in prison
Matthew Law pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to rape a child under the age of 13 and was ordered to serve 20 years in prison
A 50-year-old man who was accused of plotting the rape of a seven-month-old child has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars following a two-week trial at the Bristol Crown Court. Matthew Law pleaded guilty to conspiring to rape a child under the age of 13 and was given a 20-year sentence — consisting of 15 years in prison and five years of license — by the presiding judge Julian Lambert, who did little to hide his distaste for Law.
According to the Daily Mail, Law is the eighth member of an online child pedophile ring who used the dark web to cover their tracks before they were arrested and convicted as part of an investigation led by the National Crime Agency (NCA). With his sentencing, the group will be spending a combined 127 years behind bars.
Speaking at the sentencing hearing, Lambert called Law — who had a previous conviction relating to child abuse images from 1999 — "dangerous and depraved," saying his "depravity is so entrenched that this, taken together with all the surrounding circumstances leads to the sure conclusion that there is a significant risk of serious harm from you in the future."
"This was a case of victims with particular vulnerability upon whom you inflicted almost indescribable depravity," he said. "There is no doubt you bear a heavy burden of responsibility for an atrocious offense." Referring to Law's previous conviction, Lambert said there was further evidence he "took a sexual interest in the very young."
The Mail reported that Law first became a member of the pedophile ring after coming into contact with leader 39-year-old Christopher Knight. Knight then introduced the 50-year-old to other "like-minded individuals" and the group began planning "the most shocking sordid exploitation" of toddlers and babies, using encrypted communication to avoid detection.
Their victims included a baby aged between six and 12-months-old who they abused over a nine-month period and a young child believed to have been four-years-old, with those who couldn't get to the location of the abuse meeting up elsewhere and watching via online video conferencing facilities.
Seven members of the group, including Knight, were identified, tracked down, and arrested by the NCA in 2014. Knight was convicted of offenses including rape of a child under 13, conspiracy to rape a child under 13, sexual assault of a child under 13, and possessing indecent images of children and ordered to serve 24 years behind bars in 2015. The others were similarly sentenced to more than a decade in prison, with one of the convicted members, 34-year-old Robin Hollyson, found hanged in jail just three months into his term.
However, despite their capture, investigators continued to comb through thousands of lines of data, review hundreds of hours of interviews, and re-read statements and evidence. The hard work would pay off, leading them to London, and Law. His conviction represents yet another victory for the organization.
"Mathew Law is the eighth individual to be jailed since this investigation began in 2014," said Ty Surgeon, operations manager at the NCA. "This group of men behaved in the most depraved and deviant way. The abuse they inflicted on their victims is the worst kind of abuse I have ever seen, and the impact of investigating this case lives with me and my officers to this date."
"Law's conviction shows how determined the NCA is in its fight against those involved in child sexual exploitation and abuse and will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of offenders," he continued. "If you are engaging with people online and watching and, or sharing indecent images of children, you will be identified and brought to justice."