LONDON — A British judge sentenced a prolific pedophile to 32 years in prison Monday in what the U.K.’s national law enforcement agency described as a watershed moment for coming to grips with technology’s ability to support and spread depravity.
Geophysicist Matthew Falder admitted to 137 offenses, including blackmail, voyeurism and encouraging the rape of a child.
Posing as a female artist looking to do life drawings, Falder, 29, lured victims into sending him humiliating images, many of which ended up on the dark web. He approached 300 people worldwide, some of them teens advertising for baby-sitting or dog walking jobs online.
Falder also hid cameras in bathrooms to record women and girls naked. He also set up a camera in the home of his parents.
In an online post titled “100 things we want to see at least once,” he listed “a young girl being used as a dartboard,” and the production of a video depicting a child’s bones being “slowly and deliberately broken.”
Judge Philip Parker branded Falder an “internet highwayman,” whose behavior was “cunning, persistent, manipulative and cruel.”
“The damage is ongoing for these individuals,” Parker said of Falder’s victims. “It will never end, knowing the abuse caused by you still exists in other unknown persons’ computers.”
Britain’s National Crime Agency said Falder’s crimes required unprecedented levels of resources to stop. The agency worked with the country’s electronic intelligence agency, U.S. Homeland Security, the Australian Federal Police and Europol to crack the case. At one point, some 100 investigators were involved.
“In more than 30 years of law enforcement, I’ve never come across an offender whose sole motivation was to inflict such profound anguish and pain,” Matt Sutton, a NCA senior investigating officer, said. “I’ve also never known such an extremely complex investigation with an offender who was technologically savvy and able to stay hidden in the darkest recesses of the dark web. This investigation represents a watershed moment.”