A Lincolnshire man who filmed himself sexually abusing a young child and then distributed the images worldwide was on Friday jailed for six years and three months.
Keenan Ridgeway, 21, was caught by a National Crime Agency investigation after Interpol made them aware of six videos found in Miami during 2021.
David Eager, prosecuting, said an investigation had begun earlier after two similar videos were discovered by Essex Police.
Mr Eager said those images, filmed in Lincolnshire during 2018, showed a man lifting the clothing of a sleeping child.
One of those videos included the phrase “night time prowler” in the title.
Another man was arrested in connection with the videos but that investigation was discontinued after no images were found on his devices.
Mr Eager said the National Crime Agency reopened the investigation following an Interpol “alert” after six more serious videos of the same child were discovered in Miami.
Those videos showed a man lifting the child’s clothing and carrying out a sexual assault.
The National Crime Agency arrested Ridgeway at his home near Skegness in August 2021 after receiving intelligence that he had been involved in trying to trade indecent images of children and used the same kind of iPhone on which the videos were shot.
On his arrest Ridgeway admitted that he “thought he knew what it was about,” but refused to provide officers with the PIN for his iPhone and made no comment during interview.
Mr Eager said the National Crime Agency managed to “crack” the phone and although the images found in Miami were not present, six images of the same child were on the phone.
Officers seized devices from the property and found over 30,000 indecent images of children, and in total Ridgeway distributed 206 category A images.
Mr Eager said no video interview was taken from the child assaulted by Ridgeway as they had no knowledge of anything.
A statement was read out from the child’s mother in which she expressed her distress at Ridgeway’s conduct and her desire that the child will never know what happened.
Julia King, mitigating, told the court Ridgeway was just 16 when the offending began in September 2018 and had no previous convictions.
Miss King said there were no further contact offences after 2018 and said Ridgeway had his own troubled childhood.
The court heard Ridgeway had now expressed disgust at what he did and had no idea why he did it.
Ridgeway, of Croft Bank, Skegness, admitted 16 offences.
They were one charge of possessing a prohibited image, three charges of possessing indecent photographs, six charges of distributing indecent photographs, three charges of taking indecent photographs of a child, two charges of sexual assault of a child aged under-13 and one charge of assault of a child aged under-13 by penetration.
In total Ridgeway admitted possessing 6,532 indecent images of children in the most serious category of A, 7,232 category B indecent images, 16,070 category C indecent images and 63 prohibited images of children.
He also pleaded guilty to distributing 206 category A images, 73 category B images and 110 category C images.
Passing sentence Judge Simon Hirst told Ridgeway he distributed the images he had taken.
“You distributed those images to like minded people.”
Judge Hirst said the most serious offence was the sexual assault by penetration on the child because of their youth and the vulnerability.
“Not only did you take these images, not only did you distribute them to like minded people, but you distributed them worldwide. They will be there, on the internet, forever.”
Ridgeway was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for ten years and must register as a Sex Offender for life.
Martin Ludlow, from the National Crime Agency, said: “Ridgway sexually abused a young child in circumstances where she should have been safe.
“His actions have caused trauma to those involved, the impact of which may be felt long after he has served his sentence.
“He has been convicted of a serious sexual assault. We know he did this on at least three occasions then sent footage of the abuse to other paedophiles online.
“The NCA has the niche capabilities to identify high risk offenders like Ridgway who pose a sexual threat to children and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure they are identified and brought to justice.”
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