One of Britain’s worst paedophiles, who shared horrific images on the dark web as he abused up to 200 Malaysian children, has been handed 22 life sentences.
Freelance photographer Richard Huckle, from Ashford in Kent in England, admitted an unprecedented number of offences against children aged between six months and 12 years.
Judge Peter Rook QC ordered the 30-year-old to serve a minimum of 25 years in jail to reflect the “public abhorrence” over his “campaign of rape” spanning nine years.
A stream of pictures and videos of his rapes and assaults on children were shared with paedophiles worldwide through the now defunct dark website TLZ – The Love Zone.
He even tried to make a business out of his horrific crimes by crowd-funding the release of the images and was compiling a paedophile’s manual at the time of his arrest by the National Crime Agency.
Twenty-three children from poor Christian communities in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur were identified in 71 charges, although Huckle’s tally of abuse which he catalogued on a “Pedopoints ledger” was much higher.
The defendant stood with his hands together as if in prayer as he was sentenced by Judge Rook at the Old Bailey.
The judge told him his “self-delusion knows no bounds” and the 60-page paedophile manual he had written was a “truly evil document”.
He said: “You were and are sexually obsessed with children. You have spent years abusing them. In one of your postings you stated that you had become consumed by your paedophilia.
“It is clear from your postings on hidden encrypted paedophile websites on the dark web, and from the manual you were in the process of drafting, that your life revolved around your obsession with your own sexual gratification by child sex abuse.
“It is also clear that, had you not been arrested, you planned to continue the same lifestyle using the expertise that you were keen to show off to and share with other abusers so as to continue your sexual exploitation of the children of such communities.”
In light of Huckle’s refusal to hand over encrypted passwords to hidden files on his computer, the judge added: “In my view, you may well harbour feelings of regret but there is no feeling of genuine remorse in this case.”
As Huckle was sent down, a woman in the public gallery shouted out that “1,000 deaths is too good for you”.
Posed as teacher
Huckle first visited Malaysia on a teaching gap year when he was 19 and went on to groom more children posing as a respectable Christian English teacher and philanthropist.
Five of the youngsters were living in a children’s home and on one occasion he took a girl out to celebrate her fifth birthday and molested her at his house in Kuala Lumpur.
The defendant, who studied IT at university in Malaysia, was arrested by National Crime Agency officials as he arrived at Gatwick Airport en route to spend Christmas with his family in 2014.
Officers seized Huckle’s encrypted laptop and managed to uncover more than 20,000 indecent pictures and videos although there were other files they were unable to crack.
They found Huckle’s paedophile manual called Paedophiles And Poverty: Child Lover Guide and a “Pedopoints ledger” in which he awarded himself marks for the abuse of 191 girls and boys.
In online posts, Huckle bragged: “Impoverished kids are definitely much easier to seduce than middle-class Western kids.”
Commenting on one of his victims, he boasted: “I’d hit the jackpot, a 3yo girl as loyal to me as my dog and nobody seemed to care.”
Huckle’s horrified parents contacted the police
Huckle crowd-funded the release of indecent images of the three-year-old girl in exchange for Bitcoins, achieving 105% of his target.
His parents were so horrified when he confessed his crimes that they begged police to take him away and made statements to support his prosecution, the court heard.
Ahead of his sentencing, Huckle claimed to a psychiatrist that he wanted to put his “madness” behind him and settle down with a south Indian woman.
But the court was shown a posting from 2013 in which he outlined his plan to marry one of his victims in order to help him abuse more children.
Judge Rook concluded that Huckle posed a “substantial risk for an indefinite period”.
James Traynor, from the NCA’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) command, said: “Richard Huckle spent several years integrating himself into the community in which he lived, making himself a trusted figure. But he abused that trust in the worst possible way.
“He deliberately travelled to a part of the world where he thought he could abuse vulnerable children without being caught. Borders are no barrier – we are determined that those who go abroad to abuse children will be held to account.”
An NSPCC spokesman said: “Huckle is a frighteningly depraved paedophile, who bragged about raping babies and delighted in abusing infants who trusted him. He left a trail of devastation and his sentence reflects the severity of his crimes which have shattered so many young lives.
“It is horrifying that Huckle was able to profit from this appalling abuse by using the web to sell images and even films to other paedophiles; emphasising the importance, yet again, of the need for a cohesive, global effort from both the authorities and internet services providers to combat this vile trade.”